ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association has endorsed an amendment from Reps. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) and Rick Larsen (D., Wash.) that aims to improve pharmacy access in a preferred pharmacy pilot program by TRICARE, the U.S. military’s health benefits plan.
The TRICARE preferred pharmacy pilot is part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (H.R. 1735), now before the House Armed Services Committee. NCPA criticized the pilot program earlier this week, saying that it would limit pharmacy access for TRICARE beneficiaries and their families and exclude many community pharmacies from participating as preferred providers.
Scott and Larsen’s proposal would amend H.R. 1735 to require that 36% of any preferred pharmacy network in a TRICARE pilot be small-business pharmacies.
“In light of the fact that small-business independent community pharmacies have been essentially excluded from participating in similar Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy networks, despite being willing to accept the same terms and conditions as those assumed by other participating pharmacies, NCPA is strongly supportive of the amendment authored by Representative Scott and Representative Larsen,” NCPA said in a letter to House Armed Services Committee leaders this week.
Also in the letter, NCPA noted that the Scott-Larsen amendment wouldn’t increase the cost of the TRICARE pilot program. Under the terms of the current language of Sec. 702, all preferred pharmacies in the network would be able to buy prescription drugs for beneficiaries at rates available to the federal government pursuant to section 1074g(f) of title 10 of the United States Code, the association explained.
“The inclusion of independent community pharmacies in any TRICARE preferred pharmacy network pilot program would also enhance beneficiary access to needed medications,” NCPA stated in the letter. “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has repeatedly expressed concerns with preferred pharmacy networks in the Part D program — specifically surrounding the issue of beneficiary access. Many NCPA member pharmacies are located in either very urban or very rural areas that are typically not served by chain pharmacies.”