With the release of President Obama's 2013 federal budget and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's congressional testimony this week, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association are urging Congress to nix budget proposals that would limit pharmacy choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.


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Rx groups keep watch on federal budget for TRICARE

February 15th, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – With the release of President Obama's 2013 federal budget and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's congressional testimony this week, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association are urging Congress to nix budget proposals that would limit pharmacy choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.

In a joint statement released Wednesday, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson and NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey noted that a provision in the 2013 U.S. budget would discourage patients in TRICARE — the health and pharmacy benefits plan of the armed forces — from using community pharmacies by boosting co-payments for prescription drugs at local pharmacies while lowering co-pays for prescriptions filled via mail order.

"Congress should reject, and the Obama administration should drop, short-sighted policies that would penalize TRICARE beneficiaries accessing essential health services provided at community pharmacies," Anderson and Hoey stated. "A greater reliance on mail-order pharmacies will circumvent proven community pharmacy-provided services that have demonstrated savings by encouraging the utilization of more affordable medicines, detecting chronic illness early and increasing patients' proper utilization of medicine as prescribed."

The two retail pharmacy groups said Panetta testified this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee and is a scheduled witness at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday on the White House's budget proposal for the Pentagon, which administers TRICARE.

"Saddling our nation's service members and their families with higher out-of-pocket costs in this still-sluggish economy will reduce their access to life-saving and cost-reducing health care services," Anderson and Hoey noted. "Instead of hampering access to community pharmacy-provided services, the administration should give TRICARE beneficiaries a fair choice in their health care options."

NACDS and NCPA have been vigilant in protecting pharmacy access for TRICARE members. For example, last fall, the groups called on congressional leaders in the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — known as the "super committee" — and the Senate Armed Services Committee to reject an Obama administration proposal that they said would hike prices and penalize use of community pharmacists by TRICARE beneficiaries.

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