Alexandria, Va. April 1, 2014 - Nine U.S. Representatives have written to the U.S. Department of Defense's TRICARE program in support of patient choice of pharmacy and to raise concerns regarding a new mandatory mail order program that was recently imposed upon beneficiaries for certain brand-name prescription drugs. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today commended the lawmakers and reiterated the organization's opposition to the mail order program.
"We are concerned that many TRICARE for Life patients who prefer to get their prescriptions from a community pharmacist have seen their options limited," the lawmakers wrote. "Community pharmacists provide invaluable face-to-face counseling services and are trained to identify potential prescription drug abuse, which is a matter of increasing concern across the nation."
The letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.); Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa); Austin Scott (R-Ga.); John Garamendi (D-Calif.); Doug Collins (R-Ga.); Rick Larsen (D-Wash.); Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.); Sam Farr (D-Calif.); and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.). The lawmakers expressed misgiving over potential disruption of care for beneficiaries who use local pharmacies for some prescription drugs and pharmacist services such as immunization or medication therapy management (MTM), while other prescription drugs fall under the mandatory mail order program. They also urged TRICARE to require its mail order providers to obtain patient consent prior to delivery of medications, in order to mitigate waste such as through auto-shipping.
"We commend these lawmakers for speaking up for patient choice, quality health care and small business community pharmacies," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "NCPA members are proud to serve the medication and related health and wellness needs of all TRICARE beneficiaries. NCPA is committed to working with the Department of Defense to ensure that every TRICARE beneficiary's pharmacy-related needs are best met and the highest level of quality and patient care are dutifully delivered.
NCPA has repeatedly and strenuously expressed its opposition to the TRICARE mandatory mail order program. Most recently NCPA submitted comments to TRICARE suggesting patient consent be required prior to shipments; seeking clear communications to beneficiaries about their rights to apply for a waiver from the mandate; and raising concerns over continuity of care.
NCPA recently provided its members with a sample letter that independent community pharmacies can personalize and send to TRICARE beneficiaries. The letter clarifies what rights beneficiaries do have under the program.