Senate OKs military spending bill extending TRICARE pharmacy choice

WASHINGTON Community pharmacy’s long campaign for a level playing field to fill prescriptions for military members and their families is nearing the finish line, thanks to passage in the Senate of a massive military spending bill.

Over the weekend, the Senate passed the House-Senate negotiated version of S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.  The bill includes an important provision to preserve pharmacy choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.

The House passed S. 3001 last week. If signed into law by Pres. Bush, the bill would preserve the right of U.S. military members and their families to choose where they have their prescriptions filled with passage of a newly revised military spending bill.

The provision would extend the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, thus maintaining a level playing field for retail pharmacies vis-a-vis mail-order pharmacies. Chain and independent pharmacy advocates fought a long struggle to have that provision included in last year’s military spending bill, and were buoyed by its inclusion in this year’s proposal.

“We are pleased that the House and Senate have recognized the importance of choice and urge the President to act quickly to sign the bill,” commented Steven Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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