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NACDS emphasizes pharmacy’s role in Tricare

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has brought new attention to “the substantial health-boosting and cost-reducing benefits” that the pharmacist-patient relationship can produce for military families and veterans and for the Department of Defense.

A recent letter that the association wrote to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commmission on those benefits represents the latest action in NACDS’ ongoing effort to preserve and extend the advantages that local retail pharmacies present for improving medication adherence as well as for improving immunization rates and ­affordability.

“As policies to control spending in the Department of Defense Tricare program are examined, we would like to share our concerns about the Tricare pharmacy benefit and proposals that would seriously affect access to care by driving beneficiaries out of local retail pharmacies. These proposals include increasing co-payments for retail prescriptions and requiring the use of the national mail order program,” NACDS wrote.

“Such proposals place great financial burdens on beneficiaries and also severely limit their ability to receive medications and services from their neighborhood pharmacies. This is especially troublesome for retirees and the families of active duty military, who rely most heavily on the convenience and reliability of their local ­pharmacies.”

Established by the (fiscal year 2013) National Defense Authorization Act, the commission is developing recommendations to ensure the long-term viability of the all-volunteer armed forces. The commission is to submit its report by February 1.

NACDS cited extensive evidence that increased co-payments have the result of decreasing medication adherence, and thus contributing to poorer health outcomes.

The association’s letter referenced several studies that have demonstrated the relationship between better medication adherence and better cost-effectiveness flowing from improved health. It noted that the benefits of face-to-face engagement between patients and pharmacists also lead to greater awareness of cost-savings from generic drugs and from over-the-counter remedies.

In addition, NACDS emphasized the cost savings that have resulted from pharmacist-provided immunizations in Tricare and the benefits of maintaining continuity of care in the local retail pharmacy setting.

“Tricare beneficiaries rely heavily on their local retail pharmacies for a wide range of cost-saving services, including acute care and preventative services such as immunizations. Considering the convenience and value that local retail pharmacies provide, we question the wisdom of policies that seek to drive beneficiaries away from the benefit of their local, trusted pharmacists and unnecessarily complicate the delivery of care,” wrote NACDS.

“Beneficiaries that know and trust their local retail pharmacists for such services as immunizations are being forced to obtain medications from mail order facilities in remote locations with no opportunity for in-person consultation. There is no substitute for the pharmacist-patient face-to-face relationship. Community pharmacy services help to improve patient health and lower overall health care costs. Maintaining patient choice of how to obtain prescription medications is ­essential.”


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