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J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2018 Feb;24(2):97-107. doi: 10.18553/jmcp.2018.24.2.97.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Meeting MTM Eligibility Criteria Based on Star Ratings Compared with the Medicare Modernization Act.

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1 University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, Memphis.
2 University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.
3 University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, Memphis.
4 Pharmacy Quality Alliance, Alexandria, Virginia.
5 University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Memphis, Tennessee.



Previous research found racial and ethnic disparities in meeting medication therapy management (MTM) eligibility criteria implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in accordance with the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA).


To examine whether alternative MTM eligibility criteria based on the CMS Part D star ratings quality evaluation system can reduce racial and ethnic disparities.


This study analyzed the Beneficiary Summary File and claims files for Medicare beneficiaries linked to the Area Health Resource File. Three million Medicare beneficiaries with continuous Parts A, B, and D enrollment in 2012-2013 were included. Proposed star ratings criteria included 9 existing medication safety and adherence measures developed mostly by the Pharmacy Quality Alliance. Logistic regression and the Blinder-Oaxaca approach were used to test disparities in meeting MMA and star ratings eligibility criteria across racial and ethnic groups. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine whether there was a disparity reduction by comparing individuals who were MTM-eligible under MMA but not under star ratings criteria and those who were MTM-eligible under star ratings criteria but not under the MMA. Concerning MMA-based MTM criteria, main and sensitivity analyses were performed to represent the entire range of the MMA eligibility thresholds reported by plans in 2009, 2013, and proposed by CMS in 2015. Regarding star ratings criteria, meeting any 1 of the 9 measures was examined as the main analysis, and various measure combinations were examined as the sensitivity analyses.


In the main analysis, adjusted odds ratios for non-Hispanic blacks (backs) and Hispanics to non-Hispanic whites (whites) were 1.394 (95% CI = 1.375-1.414) and 1.197 (95% CI = 1.176-1.218), respectively, under star ratings. Blacks were 39.4% and Hispanics were 19.7% more likely to be MTM-eligible than whites. Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to be MTM-eligible than whites in some sensitivity analyses. Disparities were not completely explained by differences in patient characteristics based on the Blinder-Oaxaca approach. The multinomial logistic regression of each main analysis found significant adjusted relative risk ratios (RRR) between whites and blacks for 2009 (RRR = 0.459, 95% CI = 0.438-0.481); 2013 (RRR = 0.449, 95% CI = 0.434-0.465); and 2015 (RRR = 0.436, 95% CI = 0.425-0.446) and between whites and Hispanics for 2009 (RRR = 0.559, 95% CI = 0.528-0.593); 2013 (RRR = 0.544, 95% CI = 0.521-0.569); and 2015 (RRR = 0.503, 95% CI = 0.488-0.518). These findings indicate a significant reduction in racial and ethnic disparities when using star ratings eligibility criteria; for example, black-white disparities in the likelihood of meeting MTM eligibility criteria were reduced by 55.1% based on star ratings compared with MMA in 2013. Similar patterns were found in most sensitivity and disease-specific analyses.


This study found that minorities were more likely than whites to be MTM-eligible under the star ratings criteria. In addition, MTM eligibility criteria based on star ratings would reduce racial and ethnic disparities associated with MMA in the general Medicare population and those with specific chronic conditions.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01AG049696. The content of this study is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Cushman reports an Eli Lilly grant and uncompensated consulting for Takeda Pharmaceuticals outside this work. The other authors have no potential conflicts of interest to report. Study concept and design were contributed by Wang and Shih, along with Wan, Kuhle, Spivey, and Cushman. Wang, Qiao, and Wan took the lead in data collection, with assistance from the other authors. Data interpretation was performed by Wang, Kuhle, and Qiao, with assistance from the other authors. The manuscript was written by Spivey and Qiao, along with the other authors, and revised by Cushman, Dagogo-Jack, and Chisholm-Burns, along with the other authors.

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