House passes Defense Authorization bill; Tricare Prime fees to increase

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The House of Representatives last week passed the FY2012 Defense Authorization bill by a vote of 322 to 96. The bill includes a small increase in the Tricare Prime fee, the American Society of Military Comptrollers noted in a statement, but caps future increases at no more than the cost-of-living adjustment.

The bill does not include a freeze on co-payments for retail prescription drugs for Tricare patients, however, which had been a provision included in previous years. Without the freeze, the Department of Defense is free to move forward with its proposal to create further incentives to drive Tricare beneficiaries to use mail order.

“We certainly understand the need to reduce Tricare costs,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson and National Community Pharmacists Association EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey said in a joint statement. “Further penalizing Tricare patients who use their community pharmacy is not the most effective way to reduce prescription drug spending in the program.

The two retail pharmacy associations instead advocated increasing the generic drug dispensing rate, noting that the dispensing rate across community pharmacies typically is higher than that at a mail-order pharmacy.

The Senate will take up the bill this summer.

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