CCPA Speaks Out: Community Pharmacy Praises TRICARE Inclusions

Pharmacy Times
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Ms. Khani and Mr. Sewell are copresidentsof the Coalition for CommunityPharmacy Action.

As the first session of the110th Congress came to aclose, the community pharmacyindustry applauded the Houseand Senate passage of the NationalDefense Authorization Act for FiscalYear 2008. Specifically, the Coalition forCommunity Pharmacy Action (CCPA)cheered the inclusion of language thatwould allow the Department of Defense(DOD) to save billions of dollars bynegotiating discounted prices on prescriptiondrugs dispensed to TRICAREbeneficiaries in retail pharmacies, aswell as language to prevent increasesto retail pharmacy copayments.

Unfortunately, just before the end of2007, President Bush indicated that hewould "pocket veto" the bill for reasonsnot related to pharmacy. The pocketveto—meaning he would neither signnor overtly veto the bill—effectivelyforced Congress to go back to thedrawing board and pass a compromisebill that would meet the president'sapproval. Thankfully, both the Houseand Senate were able to pass a new billwith the president's revisions, and hesigned it into law in January.

During this delay, we continued toadvocate for the pharmacy-related provisionsof the bill. First, we supported aprovision that would allow the DOD tonegotiate lower prices for retail prescriptionsin the TRICARE program, anda second provision that would freezeretail pharmacy prescription copaymentsfor TRICARE beneficiaries for thefiscal year. As we have mentionedbefore, these provisions are essentialto ensure that beneficiaries of the TRICAREprogram—as in other governmentprograms—have the freedom tochoose where they receive their prescriptiondrugs and services.

As the bill moved back to Congressfor revisions, the CCPA, the NationalAssociation of Chain Drug Stores, andthe National Community PharmacistsAssociation monitored the situationclosely, working with key senators andrepresentatives as well as White Houseofficials.

The Coalition for CommunityPharmacy Action (CCPA) is analliance between the NationalAssociation of Chain Drug Stores(NACDS) and the NationalCommunity PharmacistsAssociation (NCPA), whichtogether represents more than55,000 community pharmacies.CCPA leverages the support,effort, and infrastructure ofNACDS and NCPA while engagingcommunity pharmacy to participateand advocate on issuesaffecting the industry.

In the end, it was a win?win situation:TRICARE patients retained accessto their pharmacy of choice, and theDOD was given the tools needed tocontrol prescription drug costs. TheCongressional Budget Office estimatesthat from fiscal years 2008 to 2013 theprovision on discounted pricing willsave the DOD $2.6 billion.

The CCPA also worked in cooperationwith pharmacists in targeted districtsto reach out to key members ofthe House and Senate—the lawmakerswho will take the lead in revising thebill. We wish to thank members of theSenate and House for including thesesections in the legislation, but we alsowant to make sure that the provisionsremain a priority in the DOD legislativepackages in years to come.

Retail pharmacies play a vital role inthe TRICARE program—dispensingmore than 55 million prescriptions infiscal year 2006 alone—and the CCPAcontinues to work to ensure we cancontinue to provide this same, trustedservice in the future.

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