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Lawmakers question TRICARE Rx mandatory mail program
April 2nd, 2014
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Nine congressmen have expressed concern about the patient impact of a new mandatory mail-order prescription drug program for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) TRICARE health benefits plan.
The National Community Pharmacists Association said Tuesday that the U.S. representatives cited a potential disruption of care for beneficiaries who use local pharmacies for some drugs and pharmacist services such as immunizations and medication therapy management (MTM), while other medicines fall under the mandatory mail program.
According to NCPA, the mandatory mail program was recently imposed on TRICARE beneficiaries for certain branded prescription drugs.
"We are concerned that many TRICARE for Life patients who prefer to get their prescriptions from a community pharmacist have seen their options limited," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the DoD. "Community pharmacists provide invaluable face-to-face counseling services and are trained to identify potential prescription drug abuse, which is a matter of increasing concern across the nation."
The letter was signed by Reps. Walter Jones (R., N.C.), Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa), Austin Scott (R., Ga.), John Garamendi (D., Calif.), Doug Collins (R., Ga.), Rick Larsen (D., Wash.), Lynn Westmoreland (R., Ga.), Sam Farr (D., Calif.) and Joe Courtney (D., Conn.).
The congressmen also called on TRICARE to require its mail order providers to get patient consent before delivery of medications in order to mitigate waste, such as through auto-shipping.
"We commend these lawmakers for speaking up for patient choice, quality health care and small-business community pharmacies," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "NCPA members are proud to serve the medication and related health and wellness needs of all TRICARE beneficiaries. NCPA is committed to working with the Department of Defense to ensure that every TRICARE beneficiary's pharmacy-related needs are best met and the highest level of quality and patient care are dutifully delivered."
Last month, NCPA submitted comments to TRICARE recommending that patient consent be required before shipment of medication. The association also called for clear communication to beneficiaries about their rights to apply for a waiver from mandatory mail and raised concerns about continuity of care.
NCPA also recently provided members with a sample letter that community pharmacies can personalize and send to TRICARE beneficiaries. The letter clarifies the rights that beneficiaries have under the program.