After nearly 15,000 pharmacies were dropped from Tricare’s pharmacy network on Oct. 24, local veterans are working to try to sort out how they are going to receive their medications.
Defense Health Agency spokesman Peter Graves confirmed that 14,963 different pharmacies across America, mainly in rural areas, will no longer accept the form of insurance.
“Despite this change, the Tricare retail network will continue to meet or exceed Tricare’s standard for pharmacy access,” Graves said in an interview with military.com. “Beneficiaries will continue to have many convenient, local in-network options for filling their medications, including those beneficiaries in rural locations.”
According to the Military Officers Association of America, nearly 400,000 Tricare beneficiaries could have been affected.
One Tricare beneficiary who was affected is Donald Williams, who has lived in Yelm since 1992.
“Due to all of the new changes to Tricare, things just are not working out,” Williams said in an interview with Nisqually Valley News. “I have to go online to order my prescriptions and they aren’t always coming in on time now.”
Williams noted there has been several times under the new Tricare guidelines where he’s had to order prescriptions online and didn’t receive them on time. Williams’ doctor told him to contact Rite Aid in Yelm for a courtesy prescription, which he had to pay for out of pocket.
After using Tim’s Pharmacy since he moved to Yelm in 1992, Williams was notified in October that his Tricare would no longer be accepted by his longtime pharmacy. Since switching pharmacies from Tim’s Pharmacy to Madigan, Williams said he has spent more money on prescriptions in one month than he did all of last year at Tim’s. Walmart Pharmacy also announced it will no longer accept Tricare as a form of health care.
“I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve lived in Yelm for 30 years and I’ve used Tim’s all this time. Right now, I’m running into problems with my doctors trying to decide where to send my prescriptions,” Williams said. “I don’t want to have to use Madigan. I want to use Tim’s. They’ve been such a magnificent pharmacy throughout the years.”
Williams said he has taken his efforts to several state leaders, which has included United States Rep. Marilyn Strickland and United States Sen. Patty Murray. He mailed letters to both politicians explaining the difficult circumstances he and other veterans are dealing with.
“Marilyn Strickland sent me a very nice letter in return,” Williams said. “A lot of different representatives in Congress signed the letter she sent me, too.”
While he was thankful for a response from Strickland, he hopes more state leaders pay attention to the issue. He would like them to use their status to project the needs of disabled veterans who “have no voice,” Williams said.
Williams said the cause is important not only to him, but for thousands of other disabled or retired United States military veterans.
“I’m fighting to win the battle, but I know I won’t win the war. My medications are very important to me,” Williams said. “I need to get them on time and I don’t want to have to pay more out of pocket for them.”