Arlington, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) commends Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) who sent a bipartisan letter this week to members of the House and Senate conference committee on the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act in support of a provision to extend the authorization for the TRICARE Acquisition Cost Parity Pilot Program for retail pharmacy for one year. Forty-nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed on to the letter.

The pilot would be instrumental in advancing several key healthcare priorities. The letter states: “The pilot will provide TRICARE beneficiaries with better access to pharmacist care and freedom to choose where to fill their prescriptions.” The letter notes that the pilot would “generate significant cost savings through lower administrative fees,” and by eliminating the acquisition cost disparity among pharmacy service locations by giving the Department of Defense (DoD) the authority to require that brand medications dispensed in the retail setting be purchased at the much lower rate it currently pays for the same medications dispensed in mail or military treatment facilities.

Implementation of the pilot program has strong bipartisan support. Earlier this year, members of both the House and Senate sent letters to Secretary of Defense James Mattis urging him to begin implementation of the TRICARE pilot. In addition, a recent poll commissioned by NACDS and conducted by Morning Consult found that nine-in-ten TRICARE beneficiaries agree with the statement: “It is important that military family and veteran benefits can be accessed at local and private establishments, not just military health facilities.” Further, six-in-ten TRICARE beneficiaries indicated that the ability to choose to fill prescriptions at retail would have a positive impact on the health of TRICARE beneficiaries.

Noting that DoD’s authorization to implement the pilot expired on October 1, 2017, the letter states that the DoD would benefit from more time to consider the benefits of the pilot in order to develop an effective implementation strategy.

“NACDS applauds Congress’ engagement in advancing this pilot program that has such strong bipartisan support in Congress and among TRICARE patients. We thank Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) for taking the lead on this letter, and we are also grateful to all those who signed it,” said NACDS President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. “This pilot has the potential to improve the health outcomes of our military families and veterans, while also reducing costs for the Department of Defense.”