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Military keeps choice with TRICARE law

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON —With the stroke of a pen, President Bush likely has kept-mail-order competitors from stripping billions of dollars worth of prescription business away from the nation’s retail pharmacies in coming years.

On Jan. 28, Bush signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. His signature marked a major victory for chain and independent pharmacy leaders lobbying for a level playing field between retail and mail-order pharmacies.

Among other things, the bill reauthorizes the TRICARE military health program and preserves the right of military members and their families to choose where they have their prescriptions filled. The TRICARE pharmacy program, which covers more than 9 million active-duty members of the military, retirees and their families.

The newly enacted law extends the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments. That extension eases the penalty military members and their dependents once incurred for choosing a community pharmacy over the mail-order provision offered by TRICARE.

Unlike the Medicare Modernization Act that created the Medicare Part D drug benefit program but forbade the Department of Health & Human Services from negotiating directly with branded drug manufacturers for price discounts, the military funding bill also includes language that policymakers say will save tax dollars. That language is contained in a provision reaffirming the right of the Department of Defense to negotiate with drug makers for federal pricing discounts for TRICARE prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, in the same manner as they do for TRICARE prescriptions filled at military bases or by mail order.

The pricing language will yield $2.6 billion in savings for fiscal years 2008-2013, according to new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

“The bill also is pro-savings for military families and for the Department of Defense alike.” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.

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Report says Tesco looking at expansion in Chicago

BY Doug Desjardins

CHICAGO Tesco is looking to roll out Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets in the Chicago area, according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times.

The newspaper attributed the report to a “knowledgeable source” and said Tesco could offer the Chicago area something “unique because of its strong offering of prepared foods, packaged perishables and selection of produce, meat and bakery.”

Tesco has not commented on the report and has said it plans to expand on the West Coast in 2008, opening stores in California, Nevada and Arizona. The chain opened its first store in December and plans to have up to 50 Fresh & Stores open by the end of February.

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Lubin promoted to Walgreens vp and new second position

BY DSN STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens today promoted Steven Lubin to divisional vice president and the new position of general manager of marketing for non-mainland operations. In his new role, Lubin will ensure the company’s marketing meets the needs of customers in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

As general manager of marketing for Puerto Rico, Lubin spent the past three years living on the island. He is relocating back to the company’s Deerfield, Ill., headquarters for his new duties.

“Steve was a huge asset in Puerto Rico as we worked to better meet the unique needs of our island customers,” said Walgreens chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey Rein. “He also was invaluable as we opened our first Hawaii store last year, quickly grasping what Hawaiian customers want in a drug store and working with a Walgreens team to buy from many local vendors. Steve’s a big part of our early, strong success in Honolulu.”

Lubin joined the company in 1970 as a stock clerk in Chicago while attending college. He managed several Chicago-area stores before moving into Walgreens’ purchasing department in 1980. He was promoted to a divisional merchandise manager in 1988 and to general manager of marketing for Puerto Rico in 2004. 

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