Arlington, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) today expressed appreciation to Congressional leaders for advancing the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes the NACDS-supported “Pilot Program for Prescription Drug Acquisition Cost Parity in the TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits Program.” The pilot will provide military families and veterans with the choice of how they get their medications and will also lower program costs. Importantly, the final bill also includes no new copayment increases, which also is in the interest of pharmacy choice and access for beneficiaries – which leads to enhanced health and well-being.

This is a great day for the TRICARE program and for the military families and veterans who rely on their local pharmacies.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the final NDAA today – as negotiated between the House and Senate. Senate action is anticipated soon.

“This is a great day for the TRICARE program and for the military families and veterans who rely on their local pharmacies. This pilot program will allow the Department of Defense to access lower pricing for prescriptions dispensed at community pharmacies. Simply put, it will improve beneficiary access to medications and reduce costs,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE.

“NACDS appreciates the leadership of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), on this important issue. Also, we want to thank House Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Heck (R-NV) and Ranking Member Susan Davis (D-CA) and Senate Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“NACDS recognizes the 37 House members who elevated this issue of the pilot program when the House and Senate negotiators were finalizing the NDAA. Rep. Earl L. ‘Buddy’ Carter (R-GA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) led the effort to send a letter to the negotiators at that pivotal time.

“We also commend the House and Senate negotiators’ important action in making no additional copayment increases, which is highly consistent with fostering the health and well-being of our military families and veterans.”

In the Congressional letter that Anderson cited, supporters of the pilot program said it would “lower overall administrative fees, preserve beneficiary choice and allow access to valuable in-person consultations.”

Regarding the issue of copayments, NACDS consistently has advocated against copay increases that unfairly penalize TRICARE beneficiaries who prefer to use local pharmacies. Such copay increases, NACDS has maintained, carry unintended consequences which occur when patients do not adhere to their medication regimens. Decreased medication adherence can have negative effects on health outcomes and cause an increase in more expensive medical options, such as emergency room visits and trips to the doctor’s office.

In reviewing a prior version of the copay provision, the Congressional Budget Office found that it “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.”