Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) remain vigilant in communicating with Congress on not increasing TRICARE pharmacy copayments. In a letter this week to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, NACDS and NCPA reiterated concerns about the impact copay increases could have on TRICARE beneficiaries.

 As House and Senate negotiators work to resolve differences in their chambers’ versions of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), NACDS and NCPA said in their letter that when the Congressional Budget Office reviewed the Senate version of the FY2016 NDAA, it found that “copay increases would result in an increase of over $1 billion in federal spending for medical services, particularly in Medicare.” In addition, the letter stated that the proposed copay increases in the Senate version of the FY2017 NDAA “would double, and in some cases nearly triple, the amount of money a TRICARE beneficiary would be required to pay out-of-pocket to get their prescriptions filled.”

NACDS and NCPA urged the conferees to protect TRICARE beneficiary access to prescription medications by adopting the House position, which does not include an increase in pharmacy copayments.

NACDS and NCPA noted in the letter that TRICARE patients are already worried about gaining access to the services they need, and cited a report from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission that emphasized how important it is for TRICARE beneficiaries to have choice and access to care, and recommended policies that would engender access to those essential parts of the military healthcare system.

In the letter, NACDS and NCPA pointed out that copay increases put greater burdens on TRICARE patients and “unfairly penalize TRICARE beneficiaries who prefer to use local pharmacies.” The increases also carry unintended consequences, which occur when patients do not adhere to their medication regimen. A lack of medication adherence can have negative effects on healthcare outcomes and cause an increase in more expensive medical options, such as emergency room visits and trips to the doctor’s office.

NACDS and NCPA underscored the critical need to ensure patients have uninterrupted choice and access to the care they need, without the repercussions inherent in increased copayment amounts. The organizations emphasized that improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs would be at risk if the Senate version of the legislation, which includes increased copays, is enacted.