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NACDS hails TRICARE pilot in defense bill

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Program preserves pharmacy choice, reins in co-pays

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ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores applauded Congressional leaders for advancing a prescription drug cost parity pilot for TRICARE in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The House of Representatives passed the final NDAA on Friday, and Senate action on the bill is expected soon, NACDS said.

“This is a great day for the TRICARE program and for the military families and veterans who rely on their local pharmacies. This pilot program will allow the Department of Defense [DoD] to access lower pricing for prescriptions dispensed at community pharmacies,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. “Simply put, it will improve beneficiary access to medications and reduce costs.”

Under the pilot, called the “Pilot Program for Prescription Drug Acquisition Cost Parity in the TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits Program,” the DoD buys 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.

“NACDS appreciates the leadership of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D., Wash.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D., R.I.), on this important issue. Also, we want to thank House Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Heck (R., Nev.) and Ranking Member Susan Davis (D., Calif.) and Senate Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Ranking Member Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.),” Anderson stated.

“NACDS recognizes the 37 House members who elevated this issue of the pilot program when the House and Senate negotiators were finalizing the NDAA,” he added. “Rep. Earl L. ‘Buddy’ Carter (R., Ga.), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) and Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.) led the effort to send a letter to the negotiators at that pivotal time.”

The final bill also includes no new co-payment hikes, which promotes pharmacy choice and access for TRICARE beneficiaries, NACDS pointed out.

“We also commend the House and Senate negotiators’ important action in making no additional co-payment increases, which is highly consistent with fostering the health and well-being of our military families and veterans,” Anderson commented.


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