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ALEXANDRIA, Va. Speaking with one voice, the nation’s largest chain and independent pharmacy groups gave a thumbs-up Monday to recent efforts by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to preserve the right of military members and their dependents to obtain their prescriptions through a retail pharmacy without penalty.
The message of support came from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association. The two organizations co-authored a letter thanking Lautenberg for his continued leadership in congressional efforts to protect Tricare beneficiaries’ access to retail pharmacies.
The joint letter applauded the New Jersey Democrat for offering a Sense of Congress amendment expressing the Senate’s support for beneficiary choice in the military health program, which covers some 9 million members of the military and their families. Lautenberg has been a leading voice in Congress for legislation that would ensure Tricare beneficiaries do not face increased cost-sharing if they choose to fill their prescriptions and/or obtain other professional health services at a retail pharmacy, rather than at a base pharmacy or through mail order.
“We believe the choice of where to obtain prescription medications is best left to Tricare beneficiaries,” stated the letter, jointly signed by NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA acting EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey.
ATricare co-payment freeze provision already passed the House of Representatives under the leadership of House Armed Service Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and ranking member Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. That measure prohibited a pharmacy co-pay increase. Members of the Senate are slated to debate their version of the Defense Authorization bill, which includes funding for Tricare, but the legislation likely won’t be taken up until after the November elections.
“As the Defense authorization moves towards final enactment, we will be seeking language specifically prohibiting co-pay increases to best protect beneficiaries’ access to their retail pharmacies,” noted NACDS and NCPA in their letter.