WASHINGTON — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association have called on Congress to support a pilot program for TRICARE that they say would rein in prescription drug costs for the Department of Defense (DoD).
NACDS and NCPA said Wednesday that they have sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D., Wash.) explaining how the TRICARE acquisition cost parity pilot would give the DoD access to lower pricing for prescriptions dispensed at retail pharmacies while providing military families and veterans more options for where to get their medications.
The letter comes as House of Representatives and Senate negotiators prepare to reconcile differences in the House and Senate versions of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). NACDS and NCPA noted that the pilot is included in the NDAA version passed by the House on May 18 but not in the version passed by the Senate on Tuesday.
“We believe maintaining access and patient’s choice, while reducing program costs, can be achieved through a pilot program testing acquisition cost parity for prescription drugs dispensed through retail pharmacies,” NACDS and NCPA said in the letter.
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. Under the pilot, the DoD would buy purchase prescription drugs dispensed by any retail pharmacy in the TRICARE pharmacy network – including small-business pharmacies — to retired TRICARE beneficiaries who are not Medicare eligible at the lowest price available to the department.
“The pilot will increase TRICARE’s access to the 32% average cost difference for brand-name maintenance medication prescriptions currently only available for prescriptions filled through mail and MTFs. The pilot program will also lower the administrative cost of dispensing all prescriptions,” NACDS and NCPA explained. “It is believed that the current administrative fees for prescriptions filled through mail order may be as much as three to four times higher than the retail setting. The pilot will reduce the costs associated with administrative fees by allowing beneficiaries to obtain their prescriptions at more cost-effective retail pharmacies and also help small businesses contribute back to their local economies.”
The letter also said the pilot program would preserve freedom of choice for TRICARE beneficiaries, improve pharmacy access in urban and rural areas and provide “a uniform and consistent pharmacy benefit, with less confusion on where to fill prescriptions.”
“This will ultimately lead to improved beneficiary health through a local relationship with their hometown pharmacist,” NACDS and NCPA added.