Arlington, VA – As Congress continues consideration of the bipartisan conference agreement to the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which reflects negotiations to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE issued the following statement.

“NACDS has remained highly engaged in efforts to preserve pharmacy choice for TRICARE patients. While we acknowledge modest improvements in retail pharmacy provisions of the bipartisan conference agreement, remaining provisions still restrict retail pharmacy access for some TRICARE patients.

“The bipartisan agreement, which passed the U.S. House last week, includes a $3 increase in TRICARE prescription copayments amounts for 2015 across the board (except for generics obtained through mail order which remain at $0 copay). In addition, implementation of the requirement for TRICARE beneficiaries to obtain their brand name maintenance medications through mail order or a military treatment facility has been delayed until October 2015. These provisions are improvements from measures included in the Senate version of the bill that would have had much more severe impacts on beneficiaries.

“We thank House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon for his leadership in helping to prevent drastic increases in copayments that would have impacted many TRICARE beneficiaries.

“However, the agreement also requires the use of mail order for non-formulary medications, which means that some TRICARE patients will not have the option of utilizing a retail pharmacy for these medications.

“Retail pharmacies are healthcare destinations, providing reliable and convenient access to prescription medications, as well as pharmacist-provided vaccinations, chronic disease management, medication therapy management and simple health testing services – all of which can improve patient outcomes and reduce overall healthcare costs.

“As the Senate is expected to vote on the agreement this week, we will continue to work with Congress, and moving forward with the congressionally-established Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, to reiterate the importance of pharmacy choice and access for military service members, veterans and their families.”