Bipartisan legislation would waive drug fees for service members and veterans during COVID-19

Julia LeDoux
June 18, 2020 - 10:24 am

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Prescription drug fees would be waived for service members and veterans under a new bipartisan bill recently introduced in Congress. 

Sen.  Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the TRICARE Prescriptions Relief Act with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). The legislation increases flexibility for TRICARE beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic by waiving fees for prescriptions filled outside of a military clinic.

“Ensuring Arizona TRICARE recipients can receive their prescriptions outside of military clinics at no added cost helps keep Arizona military families and retirees safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” Sinema said.

Military families and retirees who currently use TRICARE and receive their prescription drugs from military treatment facilities do not pay any copayments for their prescriptions. However, if they receive their prescription through a retail pharmacy or through mail-order services they must pay co-pays. 

“In the wake of a widespread disaster like a hurricane or global pandemic, our military service members, veterans, and their families should not have to worry about how they will continue to afford life-saving treatments,” Wicker said. “The TRICARE Prescription Relief Act would give our defense leaders the flexibility they need to waive cost-sharing requirements for TRICARE beneficiaries through the duration of a crisis.”

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The legislation allows the Secretary of Defense to waive TRICARE pharmacy copays for mail-order or retail pharmacy services during national emergencies including the coronavirus pandemic.

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If the legislation passes Congress, the Defense Secretary could invoke a waiver during any national emergency, including public health emergencies declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, or those invoked by the President under the National Emergencies Act and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

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