“Lost Care and Broken Promises”: TriCare Cuts Veteran Access to 15,000 Pharmacies Nationwide Beginning October 2022
“You should expect a choice of health care providers that is sufficient to ensure access to appropriate high-quality health care.” — TRICARE Beneficiary Brochure
An apt description of how most of us already feel, “Lost Care and Broken Promises” is actually how Military.com first labeled the travesty of TRICARE decisions that left thousands of active military and retired veterans without access to local medical care at nearby military bases in 2020.
Just 2 years later, TRICARE — or should we say Express Scripts, because we all know whose job it is to ensure network adequacy — is at it again, this time cutting 15,000 pharmacies from the TRICARE network effective October 24, 2022. Predictably, Express Scripts has the Department of Defense doing its dirty work, making the announcement through official channels and citing “cost savings” as its rationale, even as Express Scripts is wasting no time steering active and retired military to ESI-owned pharmacies and charging a tidy administration fee in the process.
The backlash has been swift and sure:
- Local news stations have picked up the story in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina
- NCPA is urging members to contact their federal legislators to sign onto a letter by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) demanding answers from the DOD
- PUTT members are orchestrating letter-writing campaigns to Congress members like Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and getting details in the hands of high-profile legislators like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at public events in their hometowns.
If you read our newsletter regularly, it won’t surprise you to hear PUTT is outraged and unwilling to stand aside while those who serve (or served) our country are sold yet another false bill of healthcare goods. We’re encouraged to see so many speaking out, refusing to remain silent while Express Scripts pays itself administrative fees some 17 times higher than its average reimbursement to the local pharmacy.
We’ve developed talking points for members to use when talking with their legislators and active or retired duty military patients. We will continue to release information, graphics (including our headline graphic, which is downloadable), and other supporting materials as we call for complete transparency and accountability by Express Scripts, TRICARE, and the Department of Defense.
We appreciate our active military and veterans, and we want to see them receive the respect and care they deserve. Until then, we won’t rest.
Yours in advocacy,
Monique Whitney, Executive Director