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Rite Aid and Homeward Partner to Support Seniors in Underserved Communities

May 31, 2022

Partnership to Increase Access to Comprehensive Care for Americans Living in Rural Areas

SAN FRANCISCOMay 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Homeward, a company committed to improving access to high-quality, comprehensive care in rural communities, announced a strategic partnership with Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) to provide access to comprehensive care for those living in rural areas across the U.S.

Pharmacists are among the most trusted members of a local community – especially for the more than 50 percent of Americans living with a chronic condition[1]. Today, Rite Aid has over 6,300 pharmacists across 2,300 locations, including 700 pharmacy locations in rural areas, many of which are healthcare deserts with limited access to doctors and hospitals.

Beginning this summer, Homeward and Rite Aid will partner to connect underserved seniors with providers and other clinical services. Rite Aid pharmacists will be able to introduce Medicare-eligible customers to Homeward's clinical services, including annual wellness visits, screenings, and risk assessments. In addition, Rite Aid will host Homeward's mobile care units at select rural Michigan locations to provide care and services to underserved communities with the goal of expanding to additional markets nationwide.

"As we rearchitect health and care for rural Americans, we must consider the specific needs of millions living in these communities and so-called healthcare deserts. In these areas, we can't assume that 'if you build it, they will come.' Instead, we're creating convenient opportunities for care within the daily lives and routines of rural Americans," said Dr. Jennifer Schneider, CEO, Homeward. "Rite Aid is a highly recognized and trusted pharmacy services company with rural locations that serve many thousands of people every day. Through our partnership, we'll be able to connect individuals to our services as we improve access to critical, frontline services in these communities."

"Rite Aid is deeply committed to improving the lives of our customers with expanded pharmacy and healthcare services in underserved rural communities," said Rite Aid President and CEO Heyward Donigan. "We are proud to support the innovative work that Homeward is doing to introduce a new, hybrid care model that will play a critical role in our customers' health journeys."

To date, much of the innovation in healthcare has been applied only to urban populations, leaving rural populations saddled with widespread hospital closures2 and physician shortages3, both of which exacerbate health disparities, significantly poorer clinical outcomes and higher total costs. To address these significant gaps, Homeward announced plans to provide high-quality, accessible care for the 60 million Americans living in rural communities using a unique, hybrid model that is designed to meet their distinctive needs.

Similarly, Rite Aid is focused on improving healthcare in underserved rural communities. "Our pharmacists have trusted relationships with millions of seniors built on years of frequent interactions and counseling in regards to medication and whole health needs. By partnering with Homeward, we will use our scale and suite of services to help close gaps in care and improve medication adherence," Donigan said. "Being part of the hybrid model that Homeward is building is an exciting opportunity to truly improve the health and wellness of our rural communities."

Homeward deploys an integrated care model that combines mobile, community-based care with centralized clinical oversight and ongoing care management. Homeward providers see members both in community-based, mobile clinics and in members' homes, as preferred. Homeward care teams conduct physical exams, perform basic diagnostic tests, and when needed, refer members to regional health systems and specialists if more complicated diagnostics are required. Homeward's technology-enabled care model also includes virtual visits and in-home, cellular-based remote monitoring that keeps patients connected to their multidisciplinary care team.

Homeward will provide in-network services, including primary care and specialty care beginning with cardiology, in Q3 2022 for individuals covered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. The company will set aside the fee-for-service model – which defaults to in-clinic care settings and limits the ability to leverage new, innovative technology and services – in favor of a value-based, total capitation model.

About Homeward

Homeward is rearchitecting rural health and care for the 60 million Americans living in rural communities. Homeward employs an in-network multidisciplinary care team, available both virtually and on the ground via mobile care units, with in-home remote monitoring to better connect patients to high-quality, accessible, and comprehensive care. Today, the company partners with Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, taking on the full risk of their members to improve outcomes and reduce costs. For more information, please visit www.homewardhealth.com.

About Rite Aid Corporation

Rite Aid Corporation is on the front lines of delivering healthcare services and retail products to Americans 365 days a year. Our pharmacists are uniquely positioned to engage with customers and improve their health outcomes. We provide an array of whole being health products and services for the entire family through over 2,400 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. Through Elixir, we provide pharmacy benefits and services to millions of members nationwide. For more information, visit www.riteaid.com.

Press Contact:
Jen Long
Homeward@120over80mktg.com
617-784-3245

Press Contact:
Terri Hickey
Terri.hickey@riteaid.com
 717-975-5718

1 In a recent Gallup poll, more than 79% of patient respondents found pharmacists to be a reliable source of general health information beyond general medication questions.

1Since 2005, at least 163 rural hospitals have closed, more than 60% of them since 2012. Rural health clinics are faltering too; 388 clinics closed between 2012 and 2018, which left 4,245 in operation.

2There are fewer physicians in rural areas: 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas. Nearly 80% of rural counties are short on primary care doctors and 9% have none. And this problem is only going to worsen. More than 25% of primary care physicians in rural areas are 60 or older, compared with 18% in urban areas.

SOURCE Homeward

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