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Professor Junling Wang Receives $987,562 Grant for Research to Find More Equitable, Effective Medication Therapy Management Eligibility Criteria

Junling Wang
Junling Wang, PhD,

Junling Wang, PhD, a professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a $987,562 grant to research more equitable and effective eligibility criteria for medication therapy management for Medicare beneficiaries. The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, and will be funded over the next three years.

Medication therapy management (MTM) services encompass a range of health care efforts – comprehensive medication review, prescriber intervention for care coordination, and monitoring and following up of medication therapies — that aim to improve therapeutic outcomes for patients. For 2015, patients with at least three chronic conditions, eight covered drugs, and a drug cost of $3,138, are eligible.

Medication therapy management services were originally implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2006 as a part of the Medicare prescription drug (Part D) benefits based on the Medicare Modernization Act. The goal was to reduce the costly public health problem of pharmaceutical-related adverse events. They have been shown to improve outcomes significantly, but are in urgent need of revision, according to the CMS’ 2015 proposed rules.

In this document, CMS credited previous findings by Dr. Wang and her research team among the main reasons to change MTM eligibility. Her research has shown that Medicare MTM eligibility criteria may be contributing to disparities in health care, because African-Americans and Hispanics overall use fewer drugs and are less likely to qualify for medication therapy management.

“The goal of this project is to find equitable and effective eligibility criteria,” said Dr. Wang. “Effectiveness and equal access are essential for a significant solution to this problem. The crucial and time-sensitive research that we propose analyzes policy scenarios, offering the advantage of predicting the effects of policies before implementation.”

\If successful, this study, which is titled “Finding Equitable, Effective Medication Therapy Management Eligibility Criteria,” can identify alternative eligibility criteria. The results will enable the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health to advise the administration and Congress on the best policy parameters to minimize these issues, and will guide future research.

Dr. Wang’s co-investigators on the study include Marie A. Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, MPH, MBA, FCCP, FASHP, dean and professor in the UTHSC College of Pharmacy; Christina A. Spivey, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UTHSC; Jim Y. Wan, PhD, associate professor, Departments of Preventive Medicine and Urology at UTHSC; Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, FRCP, A. C. Mullins Professor in Translational Research, professor of Medicine, director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and director of Clinical Research Center at UTHSC; William C. Cushman, MD, professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine, Medicine, and Physiology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC and chief, Preventive Medicine Section, at the Memphis VA Medical Center; Julie Kuhle, PharmD, vice president, Measure Operations, from Pharmacy Quality Alliance in Springfield, Virginia; and Ya-Chen Tina Shih, PhD, professor and chief, Cancer Economics and Policy Section, from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Yanru Qiao, MS, is the data analyst on the team. Israel A. Goldberg, PhD, a grant consultant for UTHSC, guided Dr. Wang closely in the grant application process.

The National Institute on Aging is committed to understanding the aging process and prolonging life. It is the primary agency that supports and conducts Alzheimer’s research. For more information, visit www.nia.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.