Funding will support research to advance policies within Medicare Part D to prevent pharmacy closures and advance equitable access to medicines
Dima M. Qato, associate professor of pharmacy at the USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Director of the Program on Medicines and Public Health, was awarded a four-year, $1,650,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for her project “Structural Racism in Medicare Part D, Pharmacy Closures and Disparities in Medication Adherence in Older Adults.”
Qato’s pioneering work on the impact of structural racism on pharmacy closures and access to medicines aims to advance equitable, and eliminate discriminatory, policies within Medicare Part D and resolve persistent disparities in pharmacy access and adherence among chronically ill older adults.
“Pharmacy closures may be an overlooked community-level mechanism of structural racism that exacerbates the adverse consequences of segregation on disparities in pharmacy access and medication adherence,” said Qato, who serves as the Hygeia Centennial Chair at the USC Mann School and is a senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. Qato holds a joint appointment with the USC Spatial Sciences Insitute at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Despite evidence that pharmacy closures contribute to declines in medication adherence, rigorous investigations on the extent and impact of structural racism within Medicare Part D–policies that reinforce differential access to resources and opportunities–and pharmacy closures on disparities in medication adherence have not been conducted, according to Qato.
“We need to shift the focus within Medicare Part D payment and delivery reform from addressing individual-level barriers toward addressing structural racism and how it operates at the community level, specifically pharmacy closures, to adversely affect minority older adults living in segregated neighborhoods,” Qato said. “The failure to do so may undermine ongoing efforts to reduce disparities”
“The goal of this project is to evaluate the extent and impact of pharmacy closures on medication adherence among chronically ill older adults with Medicare Part D and identify subgroups most at-risk for non-adherence post-closure,” Qato said.
A public health advocate and community pharmacist, Qato aims to generate new evidence to guide Medicare Part D payment and delivery reforms to protect pharmacies from closure. For older adults who rely on their pharmacies, Qato’s project aims to reduce disparities in medication access and advance health equity.