Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, announced today that Express Scripts Inc. of Maryland Heights, Mo., was awarded the Tricare Retail Pharmacy contract. The total value of the contract, which does not include the cost of prescriptions filled by civilian retail pharmacies using Department of Defense (DoD) funds is estimated to be $245.4 million for the period of performance, including the six-month base period and five one-year option periods. The single contract will better serve Tricare beneficiaries, be simpler for the government to administer, and make the program more accountable.
"This new contract is part of the department's strategy to implement a fully integrated pharmacy program that delivers world-class, cost-effective patient care through a single manager of our retail pharmacy benefit," said Winkenwerder. "Our new contract partner will apply best pharmacy benefit management practices to improve and continue the delivery of this important service while achieving the highest level of beneficiary satisfaction."
The new single contract will integrate with other health contracts to create one uniform benefit. This consolidation provides better service for beneficiaries in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It also ensures significant cost avoidance for the government. The new retail pharmacy program will be fully portable, allowing beneficiaries access to network pharmacies while traveling outside of their regions. Retail pharmacies comprise one of three venues through which pharmacy services are available. Beneficiaries may also obtain prescription medications from their military treatment facilities and the Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy.
The contract evaluation and award was guided by healthcare and pharmacy experts through a disciplined process and was based on the principle that best value is the most important criteria for the government. The transition to the new retail pharmacy contract begins on Oct. 1, 2003, and will continue through the next six months; the turnover of responsibility for delivery of retail pharmacy services will occur nationwide on April 1, 2004.
"We are committed to ensuring that the transition to this new contract will be smooth," said Winkenwerder. "Our contract provides ample time for building and improving on the best aspects of our current system, and includes provisions to keep our beneficiaries informed. A sound transition plan and the establishment of a close working relationship with the contractor will ensure early identification and quick resolution of any potential issues we may encounter."
Beneficiaries will be informed by Express Scripts Inc. about network coverage and procedures for filling prescriptions at their neighborhood pharmacies. DoD will monitor the new retail network carefully to ensure patient safety and provide continuity of services.
For questions or more information on Tricare contracts, interested parties may visit the Tricare Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/.