Arlington, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is thanking 37 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have sent a letter to House and Senate negotiators, urging them to advance an important TRICARE pilot program as part of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

NACDS appreciates the work of Congressman Dave Loebsack, Congressman Buddy Carter and Congressman Peter Welch to advance this important pilot program.

U.S. Reps. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) and Peter Welch (D-VT) led the effort on this letter, which was sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees – those who are heading the effort to work out differences between the two chambers’ versions of the NDAA.

Contained in the House’s version of the bill, the “Pilot Program for Prescription Drug Acquisition Cost Parity in the TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits Program” would provide military families and veterans with the choice of how they get their medications and also would lower program costs.

“NACDS appreciates the work of Congressman Dave Loebsack, Congressman Buddy Carter and Congressman Peter Welch to advance this important pilot program,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. “This pilot has the potential to preserve the choice of military families and veterans, to reduce Defense Department costs, and to boost patient health by maintaining access to the pharmacist-patient relationship.”

The pilot program in effect would allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to access lower pricing for prescriptions dispensed at community pharmacies.

“TRICARE beneficiaries have seen a number of changes to their prescription drug plan over the last few years, including brand name maintenance medications being dispensed via mail order or at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and increased prescription copayments. These changes have not only impacted beneficiary access and health, but have also resulted in shifting health care costs to the Medicare program,” the House members wrote.

“The pilot program … is a sensible approach to maintaining beneficiary choice and access while at the same time lowering

[DoD] costs. Currently, the DoD is able to purchase medications that are dispensed through mail order and [MTFs] at a much lower costs than for drugs dispensed in the retail setting, in some cases as much as 32 percent lower. The pilot program would allow the DoD to purchase prescription drugs dispensed in the retail setting at the lowest rate available to the Department, thereby eliminating those cost differences. The pilot would also produce savings by lowering the costs paid in administration fees by the DoD for prescription drugs. It is believed the DoD currently pays three times as much in per prescription administrative fees to dispense prescriptions through mail than the retail setting. Allowing patients to maintain treatment from their retail pharmacy, including small business pharmacies, will result in lower overall administrative fees, preserve beneficiary choice and allow access to valuable in-person consultations with their pharmacies.”

The House and Senate will need to pass an identical version of the NDAA before it can be sent to the President for consideration and for signing into law.