NACDS and NCPA have sent a letter to House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders urging them to support a one-year extension of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) authority to enact the TRICARE pilot as contained in last year’s defense budget.
The request comes with the pilot expiring on Oct. 1 and members of Congress set to consider the final National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018 NDAA).
“The pilot will be a valuable program providing TRICARE beneficiaries with better access to pharmacist care and freedom to choose where to fill their prescriptions,” NACDS and NCPA wrote in the letter. “Moreover, the pilot is anticipated to generate federal savings through lower administration fees and enhanced savings on brand medications through lower net DoD acquisition costs for prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies.”
Under the concept being tested in tested in the pilot, the DoD would buy prescription drugs dispensed by any retail pharmacy in the TRICARE network — including community 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.
A one-year extension of the pilot’s authorization was approved in the House version of the budget legislation but not in the Senate-passed version.
NACDS and NCPA noted that the DoD should be given more time to devise an implementation strategy. “We believe the DoD would benefit from more time to consider the benefits of the pilot,” the associations stated.
“This pilot program has the potential to produce significant cost savings for the TRICARE program, while at the same time restoring beneficiary access to prescription drugs at all filling locations,” NACDS and NCPA added.
The TRICARE pilot carries strong bipartisan support, the two pharmacy groups pointed out. Earlier this year, members of the House and the Senate sent letters to Secretary of Defense James Mattis urging the DoD to start implementation of the program.