Letter to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader - Congresswoman Elaine Luria Leads Bipartisan Effort to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs for Military Families and Retirees During COVID-19
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:
As you negotiate further legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we renew
our calls to include measures to support our service members, their families, and military
retirees. By temporarily eliminating the copay for mail order prescriptions through TRICARE,
beneficiaries can continue to access their prescription medications at no cost out of pocket while
practicing social distancing and protecting mission critical personnel.
Section 702 of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act adjusted
pharmacy copayments for 2018 through 2027, when the Secretary of Defense will be authorized
to set and adjust cost-sharing amounts. For 2020, the copay is $10 for a 90-day supply of a
generic drug and $29 for a 90-day supply of a brand name drug. However, if a beneficiary picks
up their prescription drugs from a Military Treatment Facility (MTF), they do not need to pay
anything out of pocket.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends staying home
and practicing social distancing, TRICARE should similarly incentivize people to follow these
guidelines. An easy way to keep people in their homes is to temporarily eliminate the copay for
mail order drugs, making the cost the same no matter how the beneficiary receives their
medication. Service members, retirees, and their families would no longer need to choose
between staying safe and accessing prescription drugs without a copay.
In addition to helping service members, retirees, and their families make safe choices in
accordance with CDC guidelines, this decision would help beneficiaries who are no longer able
to access a MTF. Some installation commanders have suspended or limited installation access
for retirees and survivors to protect mission critical personnel from infection. Many of these
beneficiaries can no longer access the MTF pharmacies and will have to transfer their
prescriptions to mail order of retail pharmacies. These impacted families should not be burdened
with unexpected costs related to mail order pharmacy copays.
In any upcoming coronavirus relief package, I urge you to consider this change to help
TRICARE beneficiaries access their medications without incurring extra cost or endangering their health. I appreciate your attention to this matter. Thank you for your service and leadership
during this national crisis.