Over 4000 Independent Pharmacies That Left Tricare Network Are Rejoining - But Is That Enough?
Official sources report that almost 30% of the independent pharmacies that left the Tricare retail pharmacy network in October have decided to rejoin the network. This information is provided by Express Scripts, the company responsible for the management of the plan.
Justine Sessions, spokeswoman for Cigna/Express Scripts, stated that they are pleased 4,356 independent pharmacies accepted their December contract terms and will be rejoining the Tricare network in January.
Out of the 55,586 retail pharmacies in Tricare, 14,963 independent pharmacies dropped out of the network in October, mainly due to their understanding of the low reimbursement rates. Moreover, Express Scripts had sent a proposed 2023 contract for the network by fax in 2022, which many community drug stores never received, per the National Community Pharmacists Association.
To make things more difficult for veterans, Kroger stopped participating in the Express Scripts network on New Year's Day because of their disagreement with the company's drug pricing model. They believed that the model was bad for them and their customers. Many independent pharmacies stopped using the service before Kroger did, with reimbursement rates cited as the main issue.
The recent change in Tricare's pharmacy contractor resulted in a decrease of pharmacies nationwide, however the Defense Health Agency stated that approximately 98% of beneficiaries still have access to a pharmacy within 15 minutes.
That said, many veterans are understandably still not happy with the situation.
It appears as though money has come before the health of our servicemembers.
There are elderly individuals with grave health conditions that are being forced to seek out pharmacies further away from their homes. Many of these patients already have a difficult time with transportation and mobility.
This is not okay.
While it's good to hear that a number of pharmacies have rejoined the network in 2023, more still needs to be done for our nations veterans to remedy this situation.
h/t Military Times