ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel on Wednesday held a hearing to discuss the fiscal year 2013 defense authorization.
In line with the hearing, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted comments to the subcommittee — which has jurisdiction over all matters relating to active and reserve military personnel, including pay rates, military healthcare and education benefits, among others — regarding cuts to the Tricare program. The White House's recent proposed fiscal year 2013 budget for the Department of Defense includes a host of changes that would prevent Tricare beneficiaries from obtaining many medications at their community pharmacy and increase cost sharing by as much as $34 for a 30-day supply of medications from a retail pharmacy, NACDS said.
"In addition to unfairly penalizing Tricare beneficiaries who prefer to use local pharmacies, NACDS believes this proposal is penny wise and pound foolish," NACDS said in the comments submitted for the hearing record. "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."
In its comments, NACDS also offered the following proposals:
The adoption of other policies to reduce costs without negatively affecting either pharmacy access or health outcomes. "The utilization of generic medications by Tricare beneficiaries is low in comparison with other plans. Modest increases in generic utilization by TRICARE beneficiaries would have a dramatic impact on the DoD budget," NACDS said;
NACDS also proposed that DoD conduct a demonstration project on the effectiveness of medication therapy management in reducing healthcare costs and improving medication adherence, or the proper use of medicine as prescribed by a physician; and
NACDS recommended the development of a "drug stock replacement" program for community pharmacies that could result in savings of up to 30%. This model, currently utilized by the Tricare mail-order pharmacy, would implement depot pricing for prescription drugs provided at retail pharmacies and would enable DoD to obtain more rebates from drug manufacturers. "NACDS believes using depot pricing for covered prescription drugs provided through the retail pharmacy network would assist DoD in negotiating additional discounts from drug manufacturers, beyond the federal ceiling price (FCP) discounts currently required by law."
"We look forward to working with you on policies that control costs and preserve access to local pharmacies," NACDS concluded.