Arlington, Va. -  Following this week’s release of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report, NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE expressed concern with provisions that run counter to recommendations by the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission and support from lawmakers to ensure pharmacy access and choice for TRICARE patients.

While NACDS appreciates that the final report did not adopt a 10-year copay increase structure which was in the Senate version of the NDAA bill, there is language included indicating that copays will be revised annually beginning in 2016.  The final conference report also omitted a new pilot program for TRICARE patients.

“We thank the members of the House Armed Services Committee for pushing back on the previous copay structure which would have been more restrictive for TRICARE beneficiaries in the long-term,” said Anderson.  “However, we do have concerns that this report is inconsistent with previous recommendations by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission and DoD that pharmacy services can provide cost-reducing benefits for TRICARE patients.”

"We have remained highly engaged in efforts to preserve pharmacy access and choice for TRICARE patients over the years, including consistent advocacy efforts with lawmakers.  Key to that effort is testing the concept of making available to retail pharmacies the same medication acquisition cost rates enjoyed by mail order and military treatment facilities. The conference agreement omits the pilot program, which would have explored this important concept.  We remain committed to seeking the pilot for this program so that we can guarantee that TRICARE beneficiaries get the access to quality care they not only need but deserve.”

"Local retail pharmacies provide convenience and value for patients, and it’s unclear why policies are not matching up with opportunities for TRICARE patients to benefit from the services of their local, trusted pharmacists.  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