Tommy Tuberville objects to cuts to veterans pharmacy network
By Brandon Moseley
U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville and 15 of his Senate colleagues sent a letter Friday to Seileen Mullen, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, seeking answers about TRICARE beneficiaries’ ability to maintain access to local pharmacies. On October 24, unless the VA can reach a new agreements with Express Scripts and other providers, thousands of local community pharmacies will not be able to service 9.6 million TRICARE patients and their families.
Express Scripts is terminating the contract with TRICARE on October 24 instead of waiting for them to expire at the end of the year, heightening concerns that millions of veterans and their families will not be able to get their medicines at their neighborhood pharmacies.
“It has been brought to our attention that Express Scripts has reduced reimbursements for prescriptions dispensed at in-network retail pharmacies for 2023,” wrote Tuberville and the other Senators. “These reductions may leave many retail pharmacies unable to participate in the TRICARE Pharmacy Program, thus significantly impacting 9.6 million TRICARE beneficiaries’ access to local pharmacies. Most recently, Express Scripts notified pharmacies and beneficiaries that current 2022 pharmacy contracts will expire October 24, 2022, rather than the end of the year. This will only further reduce the pharmacy network for TRICARE patients and their families and may force beneficiaries to change pharmacies at a time when many receive annual vaccinations.”
“Pharmacists continue to be one of the most accessible health care providers in the United States,” the Senators continued. “Over 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy, and 76.5 percent of pharmacies in rural areas are independent community pharmacies. As you know, in addition to dispensing medications and vaccines, community pharmacies provide services that lead to better health outcomes, lower overall administrative fees, and valuable in-person consultations with a healthcare provider.”
Tuberville was joined in the letter by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Steve Daines (R-Montana), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming).
15,000 pharmacies will leave the TRICARE network on October 24.