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Congressman Promises to Block TRICARE Rx Co-Pay Increase

TRICARE beneficiaries have been hit with the recent news from the Department of Defense that it plans to increase TRICARE fees and pharmacy co-pays. Military retirees facing new and increased enrollment fees will take the biggest hit, but the biggest cost savings is supposed to come from the proposed increase in TRICARE Pharmacy co-pays, creating an impact on a much wider group of beneficiaries.

The changes in drug co-pays is designed to push beneficiaries to "military pharmacies and home delivery" and to increase the use of generic versus name-brand drugs, according to Rear Adm. Thomas J. McGinnis, chief of pharmaceutical operations for TRICARE.

Enrollment fees and deductible increases require congressional approval, but Defense officials have the authority to raise prescription co-pays in the retail network and within mail order on their own. Chairman of the armed services personnel subcommittee, Rep. Joe Wilson (R - S.C.), has said that he will oppose any plan to raise TRICARE drug co-pays regardless of the projected savings.

"My view is persons need these pharmaceuticals and they should be convenient. And what's convenient is to go to a neighborhood pharmacy. So I don't want to discourage that any more than has been," Wilson said.

Unless Congress decides to step in, though, military retirees, their families, and active duty family members will be asked to pay $26 for brand name drugs at their local pharmacies and for home-delivery next fall. These co-pay increases will continue by $2 per year until hitting a ceiling of $34 in October 2016.

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