Arlington, Va. – Leading up to a Senate hearing examining recommendations from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) expressed support for the commission’s recognition of preserving pharmacy access and choice for TRICARE patients. NACDS also reiterated concern with a budget proposal that would compromise that access and choice.
NACDS submitted a statement to the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee for its hearing today titled “Healthcare Recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.”
“We are pleased that the commission recognizes that beneficiaries should be able to receive their prescriptions from whichever location they prefer, whether it be the local neighborhood pharmacy, a mail order facility, or a military treatment facility,” NACDS said in its statement. “Moreover, we applaud the commission for specifically recommending that the TRICARE pharmacy benefit should integrate pharmaceutical treatment with healthcare and to implement robust
Established by the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, the Commission developed recommendations to ensure the long-term viability of the all-volunteer armed forces; to foster recruitment, retention and careers in the armed forces; and to modernize and achieve fiscal sustainability for the armed forces’ compensation and retirement systems. The Commission submitted its report on January 29.
Citing immunizations and disease screenings, as well as personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive care services, “local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow—in partnership with doctors, nurses, and others,” NACDS said in its statement.
In addition to helping improve patient outcomes, NACDS emphasized that pharmacy services help reduce overall healthcare costs.
Recognizing the cost effectiveness of pharmacist-provided vaccinations, the Department of Defense (DoD) authorizes TRICARE beneficiaries to obtain vaccinations at a retail network pharmacy for a $0 co-payment. In its final rule expanding the authority of retail pharmacies to provide vaccinations, DoD estimated that in the first six months of the immunization program, it had saved over $1.8 million by having vaccinations provided through the pharmacy rather than the medical benefit.
In addition, NACDS cited mounting evidence of the benefits of MTM services in increasing medication adherence, enhancing communication and collaboration among providers and patients, optimizing medication use, and reducing overall healthcare costs.
“Considering the convenience and value that local retail pharmacies provide, we question the wisdom of policies that seek to drive TRICARE beneficiaries away from the benefit of their local, trusted pharmacists and unnecessarily complicate the delivery of care,” NACDS stated.
NACDS also reiterated concern with a proposal in the President’s budget that would increase pharmacy co-payments, further driving TRICARE beneficiaries out of their local pharmacies.
“In addition to unfairly penalizing TRICARE beneficiaries who prefer to use local pharmacies, NACDS believes that although this proposal may seem penny-wise, it is ultimately pound-foolish,” NACDS stated. “Threatening beneficiary access to prescription medications and their preferred healthcare provider will only increase the use of more costly medical interventions, such as physician and emergency room visits and hospitalizations.”
“NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD), and other healthcare providers to improve the quality and affordability of healthcare services,” NACDS said in its statement.