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Walgreens to PBM: Let's make a Tricare deal
December 8th, 2011
WASHINGTON – Walgreen Co. said more than 250,000 beneficiaries in the military's Tricare health plan have petitioned Express Scripts Inc. to keep the drug chain in its pharmacy provider network.
Because of a contract impasse, Walgreens is slated to exit the pharmacy network of Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) for Tricare, starting in 2012. That would mean that as of Jan. 1, about 6 million Tricare beneficiaries would no longer have in-network insurance coverage for prescriptions filled at Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies.
Walgreens said Thursday that thousands of Tricare members have been demanding to retain access to the chain's pharmacy and health care services, with petition signatures from Tricare members and their supporters exceeding 10,000 per week in recent weeks.
"The last thing military personnel, families and retirees need is for their pharmacy benefits and choices to be disrupted by this issue," Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness solutions and services at Walgreens, said in a statement. "Walgreens' proposals to protect Tricare members remain on the table. There is no reason the parties cannot act quickly — before the Dec. 31 deadline — to protect Tricare members from disruption, and Walgreens is prepared to do so."
In mid-October, Walgreens announced that it had proposed terms to Express Scripts to remain as a provider in the PBM's pharmacy network for Tricare, including an offer to contract separately with Express Scripts for Tricare to avoid disruption to military families and retirees. However, the drug chain said, Express Scripts has rejected its proposals.
Walgreens said its proposals would protect Tricare member access to its pharmacies while providing savings to the program and taxpayers. The chain noted that it has offered to negotiate the Tricare renewal separately from Express Scripts' commercial business and proposed to cut Tricare reimbursement rates across the board, which would result in millions of dollars in savings to the U.S. military and taxpayers over the next few years.
In addition, Walgreens said it has offered Express Scripts an "ironclad guarantee" that the chain's prices would match or beat the average costs per adjusted prescription of all other retail pharmacies in the Tricare network.
"During Walgreens 100-plus years of serving the pharmacy needs of America's military personnel, families and retirees, we have developed a trusted relationship that Tricare beneficiaries value and depend on," Crawford stated. "We urge Express Scripts to heed the call of more than 250,000 Tricare members and their supporters so far, to prevent disruption of Tricare members' relationship with our community pharmacists and put the needs of military communities ahead of this business matter."
Walgreens pledged that it would work with Tricare beneficiaries to make any transition after Dec. 31 as seamless as possible if it's unable to come to terms with Express Scripts.