Cindy Parks Thomas, Ph.D.

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June 10, 2010

Cindy Parks Thomas, Ph.D., is associate research professor at the Brandeis University Schneider Institute for Health Policy. Her research focuses on state and national pharmacy policy and insurance benefit design regarding pharmaceuticals. Dr. Thomas’s interests also include analyses of drug utilization and spending trends, evaluations of the impact of state pharmacy assistance programs and the Medicare Part D drug benefit, drug coverage plan design, Medicaid pharmacy coverage, and access to emerging pharmaceuticals. Dr. Thomas is currently a key analyst on a CMS-funded study of the impact of Medicare Part D on dual-eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) beneficiaries, an AHRQ-funded study of electronic prescribing, and a Massachusetts state-mandated analysis of health care cost trends following state health reform. 

Dr. Thomas also has served on the National Quality Forum’s medication management national steering committee and is developing performance measures for pharmacotherapy of substance use disorders. In addition, she has published in the areas of access to and quality of ambulatory care services, prescriber adoption of new pharmaceuticals, and prescription drug policy for low-income and elderly populations. Dr. Thomas received a Ph.D. from the Heller School at Brandeis University and a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a trained physician’s assistant, in the past specializing in internal medicine and trauma and emergency care in both Kaiser Health Plan and rural private practice settings.

Dr. Thomas served as the principal investigator on a previous HCFO study that compared two state models to examine the impact of the design of state pharmacy assistance programs for low-income seniors. Researchers found that higher cost sharing overall for low-income beneficiaries was associated with significantly lower overall use of medications, greater use of generics, and up to three times greater out-of-pocket spending.  

Currently, Dr. Thomas is the principal investigator on a recently awarded HCFO grant that is examining the impact of state policies supporting Medicare Part D for the dually eligible. Dr. Thomas and her team will assess two state Medicaid policies: co-payment assistance to reduce cost sharing and beneficiary-centered assignment of dually eligible Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries to Part D drug plans. They will examine the impact of these policies for the dually eligible population on health outcomes, beneficiary switching among plans, continuity of drug treatment, and Medicare program costs. “Through this project, we hope to inform the Medicare program and state policymakers on the impact of the Part D benefit on dually eligible beneficiaries,” says Dr. Thomas. 

For more information about Cindy Parks Thomas, Ph.D., and a list of publications see