Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) are urging adoption of a key TRICARE provision when House of Representatives and Senate negotiators work to reconcile differences in the House and Senate versions of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

 In a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), NACDS and NCPA expressed support for a TRICARE acquisition cost parity pilot program for community pharmacy, which would provide military families and veterans with the choice of how they get their medications and which also would lower program costs.

The pilot program, which in effect would allow the Department of Defense to access lower pricing for prescriptions dispensed at community pharmacies, is included in the version of the NDAA passed by the House on May 18. The pilot program is not included in the version passed by the Senate yesterday.

In the letter, NACDS and NCPA wrote that while the NDAA is being considered, “…it is important that any changes to reduce TRICARE costs are done without jeopardizing the health and access of the more than nine million beneficiaries, including nearly two million children, relying on the TRICARE program.” NACDS and NCPA also noted that the changes that have occurred in recent years to TRICARE place financial burdens on beneficiaries, restrict patient access and can also have the unintended consequence of reducing medication adherence.

Having acquisition cost parity for retail prescriptions will not only reduce costs, the letter states, “…it will also preserve freedom of choice for TRICARE beneficiaries, improve access by utilizing both chain and small business pharmacies in urban and rural areas, and provide a uniform and consistent pharmacy benefit with less confusion on where to fill prescriptions.” NACDS and NCPA maintain that these benefits from the pilot program will lead to improved patient outcomes and sustained, consistent relationships with local pharmacists.