As Wednesday dawned, many media outlets were atwitter over the report from Kaiser Health News and NPR that Walmart was seeking to build a gargantuan network of primary care clinics.
But by late afternoon it wasn’t so clear exactly what Walmart was up to, as it issued what sounded like a “don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain” non-denial denial.
The initial NPR report linked to a confidential 14-page “request for information” from Walmart to potential partners in this apparently new business venture. A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed the existence of the RFI to Kaiser and to the Wall Street Journal. But in the WSJ story, the spokeswoman “downplayed” the importance of the RFI.
NPR later updated its web story with an addendum — that is, the non-denial denial.
“The RFI statement of intent is overwritten and incorrect. We are not building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care health care platform,” John Agwunobi, Senior Vice President & President of Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness, said in a statement.
But it seems hard to believe that a corporation run seemingly as tightly as Walmart would put out a request with a Nov. 22 response date and a Jan. 13 “final vendor selection” date as a big old trial balloon.
The RFI states that “Walmart will use its retail and multi-channel footprint to offer the lowest cost primary healthcare services and products in the nation.”
That may be overly ambitious, but I doubt it was overwritten.
—Alicia Ault (on Twitter @aliciaault)