For Immediate Release
Laura Cranston, RPh
Executive Director
Pharmacy Quality Alliance
(703) 347-7963

PQA Recognizes Eight Medicare Plan Contracts for Excellence and Significant Improvements in Medication Safety Based on CMS' Medicare Star Ratings
Alexandria, VA (May 18, 2017)  - The Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) announced eight Medicare plans received PQA Quality Awards for high achievement or significant improvement in PQA measures of medication safety and appropriate use. Six plans received the PQA Excellence in Quality Award and two plans received PQA's Quality Improvement Award during PQA's 12th Annual Meeting in Baltimore.

The 2017 PQA Excellence in Quality Award recognizes the highest level of combined achievement in overall performance and medication-use quality. Recipients achieved an overall summary rating of at least 4.5 stars, a 5-star rating on four or more of the PQA medication measures used within the CMS Medicare Star Ratings program, and a 4-star rating on the fifth PQA medication measure.  


This year's Excellence in Quality Award recipients are:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Northern Plains Alliance
  • Erickson Advantage, a UnitedHealthcare Medicare Plan
  • Kaiser Permanente California Regions
  • Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region; and
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Plans (multiple states)

The 2017 PQA Quality Improvement Awardrecognizes the highest improvement in medication safety and appropriate use. The Quality Improvement Award does not take into consideration the plan's overall summary rating. Instead, awardees must have received a 5-star rating on the CMS Quality Improvement measure and the greatest combined improvement from 2016 to 2017 on PQA measures used within the CMS Medicare Part D Star Ratings program.


This year's award recipients are:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Northern Plains Alliance and
  • UnitedHealthcare AARP MedicareComplete Medicare Advantage Plans (Texas)

This is the seventh year that PQA, a consensus-based, multi-stakeholder organization, has recognized health plans for achievements in Medicare prescription services and excellence in appropriate and safe medication use.


Laura Cranston, PQA's Executive Director, said, "These awards are unique in that they are based solely on publicly available quality scores. The effective use of medications is a top issue for all care providers, and it is extremely important within the Medicare Part D program. PQA recognizes these plans for the high level of medication management performance in the care of their Medicare members. The excellence and improvement set forth in the criteria for these two distinct awards are achieved through careful and deliberate strategies and interventions executed by the plans and their partners in the medication management of patients."


Five PQA-endorsed quality measures are used within the 2017 Medicare Star Ratings program, and several others are used in the Display Ratings program. Details on these measures are available at CMS evaluates Medicare plans based on a 5-star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next. More information about Star Ratings can be found at


About PQA
Established in 2006, PQA represents pharmacy providers, pharmacy benefit managers, health plans, academia, consumer advocates, community pharmacies, health technology vendors, life sciences organizations, and other stakeholders interested in improving the quality of the medication-use system.
PQA's mission is to:
Improve the quality of medication management and use across health care settings with the goal of improving patients' health through a collaborative process to develop and implement performance measures and recognize examples of exceptional pharmacy quality.
PQA provides a leadership role in identification and selection of metrics for evaluating the quality of the medication-use system, provides education on quality improvement, and connects pharmacists to healthcare improvement initiatives.  For more information about the Pharmacy Quality Alliance, please visit or contact us at (703) 347-7963.

About Erickson Advantage
Erickson Advantage is celebrating 12 years of service to their members. Erickson Advantage has been a top choice for residents since 2005. More than 4,700 fellow Erickson Living residents are already enjoying the benefits of their exclusive insurance coverage. In addition to offering five different health care plans, Erickson Advantage treats members like their own family. Members work with a team that will get to know them personally. Members can stop by the on-campus office for assistance with medical bills, schedule procedures, sign up for wellness programs, and more. Erickson Advantage can even meet with you in your apartment home. That's the kind of attention you can expect as an Erickson Advantage member.  For more information, please visit

About Kaiser Foundation
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and nonprofit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. Kaiser Foundation currently serves approximately 10.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, including almost 8 million medical members in California and more than 520,000 medical members in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, dentists, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical and dental teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:
About Blue Cross Blue Shield Northern Plains Alliance
The Northern Plains Alliance is an affiliation of six independent Blues companies. The affiliation provides MedicareBlue Rx, a Medicare Part D plan that has received the CMS 5-Star Rating for five of the past seven years, and serves more than 275,000 members in seven Midwest states - Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming and Iowa.  The Northern Plains Alliance companies are: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming.
About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

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