Rite Aid, Walmart Health closing hundreds of locations: What spine, orthopedic surgeons should know

Practice Management

Rite Aid and Walmart Health, which both had aspirations to transform traditional healthcare, have struggled with financial challenges and business models. Rite Aid closed multiple locations, while Walmart Health closed entirely.

Here's what spine and orthopedic surgeons should know:


What happened? Walmart Health closed all 51 health centers in five states, along with its virtual care services. Its pharmacies and vision centers within Walmart shopping centers aren't affected.

Walmart cited a "challenging reimbursement environment and escalating operating costs" affecting profitability as reasons for its closure in its April 30 announcement. 

History: Walmart Health launched in 2019 and had recent partnerships with Orlando Health, Centene's Ambetter. Walmart Health also had a partnership with UnitedHealth Group on value-based and older adult care. Walmart also explored providing mammograms through a partnership with RadNet.

The company's swell into healthcare had some hospital leaders interested in bringing Walmart as a collaborator rather than a competitor, especially with its interest in affordable and accessible patient care.

What's next?

Although Walmart won't operate health centers, it will continue to offer its pharmacy and vision services. Walmart services that will continue include medication therapy management, some health screenings and immunizations. 

Rite Aid

What happened? Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October and closed 154 locations. Later in April court filing revealed plans to shutter 53 more locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Virginia and Maryland. 

History: Rite Aid has strived to transform retail pharmacy, similar to other large companies. Its initiatives in recent years include a rebranding of the pharmacist title, pushing into telehealth and mental health care and opening mini-pharmacy programs in "pharmacy deserts."

But its bankruptcy has been anticipated as it was preparing to file for Chapter 11 since August. The company was also planning to close "underperforming" brick-and-mortar stores in September. 

Rite Aid has been under scrutiny with $3.3 billion in debt and facing multiple lawsuits related to its alleged role with the opioid epidemic.

What's next? Rite Aid is working to transfer prescriptions and avoid disruptions in services for customers. Bondholders agreed to give Rite Aid $57 million as of May 3 in exchange for taking business out of bankruptcy, Bloomberg reported. The company currently has about 1,700 retail pharmacy locations across 16 states.

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