Senate Bill Would Provide Relief from TRICARE Pharmacy Copays During COVID-19, Other Emergencies

Senate Bill Would Provide Relief from TRICARE Pharmacy Copays During COVID-19, Other Emergencies
Capt. David Kim, 92nd Medical Support Squadron chief of pharmacy operations, pours medication into a counting machine May 29 at Fairchild AFB, Wash. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Nick J. Daniello/Air Force)

MOAA continues to make progress toward pharmacy copay relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have introduced the TRICARE Prescription Relief Act, which would authorize DoD to waive TRICARE prescription copays during national or public health emergencies.


The bill, S. 3979, would give DoD flexibility to provide relief from retail and/or mail-order prescription copays for beneficiaries unable to visit military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies for zero copay medications.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmaker to Support S. 3979]


It authorizes DoD to waive pharmacy cost-sharing requirements after considering whether the waiver would increase affordability of alternatives to MTF pharmacies, promote prescription adherence, or facilitate the government response to a covered emergency.


A similar bill, H.R. 6573, the Help Our Heroes Access Medicine Act, was introduced in the House earlier this year.


MOAA is urging Congress to address this issue with the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). During a livestream of the Senate Armed Services Committee Personnel subcommittee mark, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member, indicated the subcommittee’s NDAA mark would include a provision authorizing DoD to waive copays during national emergencies. Providing DoD with this flexibility is critical in allowing TRICARE policy to quickly adapt in unexpected situations.


Please join MOAA’s efforts by encouraging your senators to support the TRICARE Prescription Relief Act.   


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About the Author

Karen Ruedisueli
Karen Ruedisueli

Ruedisueli is MOAA’s Director of Government Relations for Health Affairs and also serves as co-chair of The Military Coalition’s (TMC) Health Care Committee. She spent six years with the National Military Family Association, advocating for families of the uniformed services with a focus on health care and military caregivers.