WASHINGTON — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) have urged congressional leaders to decline increases to prescription co-payments in TRICARE, the U.S. armed forces health benefits program.
Referring to the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), NACDS and NCPA sent a pair of letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), explaining that higher co-pays would impact TRICARE beneficiary access to pharmacy sevices.
“As the FY2017 NDAA is considered, we urge Congress to protect TRICARE beneficiary access to prescription medications by refusing to further increase retail community pharmacy co-payments. TRICARE beneficiaries are concerned about being able to access the services they need,” NACDS and NCPA said in the letters. “Last year, the Military Compensation and Retirement modernization Commission released its long-awaited report and recommendations. The commission highlighted the importance of beneficiary choice and access and strongly recommended policies that maintain both of those critical aspects of the military health care system.
“Despite these concerns, significant changes in prescription drug cost sharing for TRICARE beneficiaries have already been implemented in recent years,” the associations noted.
They said the fiscal 2015 and 2016 NDAAs included co-pay hikes for TRICARE beneficiaries in the retail setting, and 2015 NDAA had changes that required the use of mail order for nonformulary drugs and the filling of non-generic maintenance prescriptions via military treatment facility pharmacies or mail order.
What’s more, the letter pointed out that higher co-pays and restricted patient access “can have the unintended effect of reducing medication adherence, resulting in decreased health outcomes and more costly medical interventions, such as physician and emergency room visits, and hospitalizations.”
The letters were sent to Reps. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas), HASC chairman, and Adam Smith (D., Wash.), HASC ranking member, and to Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.), SASC chairman, and Jack Reed (D., R.I.), SASC ranking member.
“As policies to control spending in the Department of Defense are considered, we urge Congress to implement changes that reduce TRICARE costs without jeopardizing patient health and access to services,” NACDS and NCPA concluded in the letter.