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NCPA appeals to DOD

NCPA appeals to DOD

Doug HoeyALEXANDRIA, Va. – A recent decision by Express Scripts to eliminate the option for TRICARE beneficiaries to obtain their prescriptions at their pharmacy of choice should be rectified to ensure continued access to needed medications, the National Community Pharmacists Association stated in a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

Express Scripts, the Cigna-owned pharmacy benefit manager that administers the TRICARE benefit on behalf of the DOD, recently announced changes effective Oct. 24 that would shrink its retail pharmacy network by 15,000 pharmacies, mostly independent community pharmacies located in underserved rural and urban areas. The change impacts 400,000 beneficiaries, according to the NCPA. 

“TRICARE patients earned their benefits, and it is imperative that they retain convenient access to their health care providers,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA, in his letter to Austin. “With a vast majority of independent pharmacies out of the network, along with large chains such as Kroger and Walmart, it is difficult to see how Cigna/Express Scripts is meeting even the reduced access standards in its new contract with DOD. We, therefore, urge you to take steps to ensure all pharmacies that were included in the 2022 Tricare network remain in the 2023 network at the 2022 terms and conditions. Without this action, access to needed medications for Tricare beneficiaries is in peril.”  

The appeal follows significant outreach from NCPA to DOD officials to address how the agency intends to take care of the medication needs of TRICARE beneficiaries, to inform them of what community pharmacy owners are reporting on these issues, and to work with them to protect pharmacy access for those who serve or have served in the armed forces.  

NCPA has been engaged on this issue with legislators, as well, which has resulted in several members of Congress demanding answers on TRICARE pharmacy contracts and the consequences for their constituents. 

For a one-pager from the NCAP with more information on the changes and what they will mean for patients and small-business pharmacies, click here.


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