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Senators urge DoD to act on TRICARE Rx pilot

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Twenty-one senators have called on U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to implement the TRICARE Acquisition Cost Parity Pilot Program for Retail Pharmacy.

In a letter to Mattis, the lawmakers outlined the benefits of the pilot, describing it as a “sensible approach to reducing prescription drug costs in the TRICARE program.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores applauded the senators’ letter and said the pilot would increase patient access, reduce costs and improve patient health outcomes — priorities now being debated in Congress as lawmakers seek better solutions for health care delivery.

“NACDS is grateful for Congress’ involvement in advancing this worthwhile and timely program. We thank Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) — both of whom serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee — for leading the effort on this letter, and we also thank all those who signed it,” NACDS president chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. “This pilot comes at an essential moment in the health care discussion and has the potential to be truly beneficial for our military families and veterans, while also reducing costs for the Department of Defense.”

Under the pilot, the Department of Defense (DoD) would buy prescription drugs dispensed by any retail pharmacy in the TRICARE network — including small-business pharmacies — at the lowest price available to the department. Currently, the DoD purchases drugs dispensed at mail order and military treatment facilities (MTFs) at a cost not available for prescriptions dispensed by retail pharmacies.

The senators noted in the letter that savings would be realized by eliminating “the acquisition cost disparity among pharmacy service locations by giving the DoD the authority to require that brand medications dispensed in the retail setting be purchased at the much lower rate it currently pays for the same medications dispensed in mail or MTFs.”

In May, NACDS thanked the 67 members of the House of Representatives who signed a letter calling on Mattis to implement the pilot. The authority for the DoD to proceed with the pilot was included in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


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