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CVS withdraws Supreme Court case on disability rights, announces new partnership

The CVS pharmacy chain has reached an agreement with a coalition of disability rights organizations and dropped a legal case that had made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court was scheduled to hear arguments in the dispute next month, and the ruling could have had far-reaching effects on disability rights

The company formally withdrew its complaint Thursday and announced a new partnership to work with four groups, including the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. 

"We've agreed to pursue policy solutions in collaboration with the disability community to help protect access to affordable health plan programs that apply equally to all members," a CVS spokesperson told CBS News. "Any further legal proceedings will take place in district court when the case is remanded."

The case, CVS Pharmacy, Inc. vs. Doe, stemmed from a lawsuit filed against CVS by multiple people who take prescription drugs for HIV/AIDS. The plaintiffs objected to changes to the company's terms that meant they could not opt out of mail-only delivery or utilize another pharmacy with experience handling their special medication needs. They argued it had a discriminatory impact on them, even if that wasn't the company's intent.

"When encouraging CVS to withdraw this case, the disability community asked CVS to find a different regulatory or policy venue other than the Supreme Court to address its concerns and agreed to work with CVS to do so," Maria Town, president and CEO of AAPD, told CBS News in a statement. 

"A core [tenet] of the disability rights movement is 'Nothing about us without us,' and that's what this partnership achieves," Town added. 

CVS Health said the new partnership builds on their longstanding relationship with those in the disability community and they will be exploring solutions together.

Disability rights advocates celebrated news of the agreement when it was first announced Wednesday. 

When the case was first heard in trial court, the judge ruled the problems the plaintiffs described did not violate federal disability laws. But when they appealed, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the unnamed plaintiffs. 

CVS then appealed to the Supreme Court, saying in court filings the ruling would "upend insurance plans and skyrocket healthcare costs nationwide." The justices agreed to take the case and scheduled arguments for December 7, but both sides have now asked the court to dismiss the case.

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