Tester to Defense Department: Preserve TRICARE Beneficiaries’ Access to Prescriptions at Rural Pharmacies
Senator: “TRICARE beneficiaries deserve convenient access to the quality and timely benefits and care they have earned, and I will continue to strongly oppose any efforts to restrict that access.”
Following a recent move by Express Scripts to reduce the number of in-network TRICARE pharmacies in Montana and across the country, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is urging the Department of Defense to take immediate action to ensure TRICARE-enrolled servicemembers, veterans, and their families maintain access to their hard-earned benefits.
“The recent decision by Express Scripts…has the potential to drive as many as 15,000 community pharmacies out of the TRICARE retail pharmacy network,” Tester wrote in a letter to Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “As a result, approximately 400,000 beneficiaries could be forced to find a new pharmacy. No longer able to rely upon their local pharmacy to access needed medications and in-person pharmacist counseling, they would be forced to drive long distances to find corporate in-network pharmacies or be funneled into Express Scripts’ mail delivery program. That is unacceptable.”
Express Scripts is TRICARE’s pharmacy benefit manager, and operates a mail-order and specialty pharmacy that directly competes with independent pharmacies. The company’s recent decision to expire its pharmacy contracts on October 24th comes two months ahead of schedule.
Tester further highlighted his concern with Express Scripts’ plan to reduce reimbursement rates for prescriptions dispensed at in-network retail pharmacies for 2023—disproportionately targeting small community pharmacies that serve more than 9.6 million TRICARE beneficiaries nationwide. He also emphasized how the decision, along with TRICARE’s complicated billing process, will drive more local providers out of the program—particularly those in rural states like Montana.
He continued, “Moving forward, I need to know the immediate steps the Department will take to address these urgent concerns. Our TRICARE beneficiaries deserve convenient access to the quality and timely benefits and care they have earned, and I will continue to strongly oppose any efforts to restrict that access.”
Read the Senator’s full letter HERE.