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Tricare Pharmacy Retail Change Hits Dec. 1

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A change that goes into effect Thursday removes all CVS locations from the Tricare retail pharmacy network and adds Walgreens to the system.

The swap, announced in late September, was the result of contract updates with Tricare's pharmacy provider, Express Scripts. Through the change, the network will shrink to 58,000 retail pharmacies nationwide as about 9,600 CVS locations, including those in Target stores, are eliminated and about 8,000 Walgreens locations are added.

Tricare officials said the 1.3 million beneficiaries who have used CVS to fill prescriptions in the last six months were notified of the change through letters, phone calls or email. Users who had filled a prescription there since Oct. 1 also received additional notification, they said.

The change affects all Tricare users, including those in the Tricare for Life program.

Beneficiaries still can fill prescriptions with CVS after the Dec. 1 change, officials said, but will have to pay up front for their drugs since the retailer will no longer be in the Tricare network. Fifty percent of that cost can then be refunded for Tricare Prime users through a reimbursement request made by the beneficiary to Express Scripts, per Tricare policy, officials said.

Those who use CVS have a few options for moving their prescriptions to other pharmacy retailers, Tricare officials said.

"If they decide to switch to another network pharmacy, they can take the prescription or prescription bottle for a refill to the new network pharmacy," said Kevin Dwyer, a Tricare spokesman. "The pharmacist there will contact the beneficiary's old pharmacy and transfer the prescription."

Users also can call their new pharmacy and ask it to transfer the prescription from CVS, request their doctor send a new prescription to their new pharmacy, or contact Express Scripts to see if their drugs are eligible for Tricare's pharmacy home delivery, Dwyer said.

Minute Clinics, located inside CVS retail locations, still will be part of the Tricare urgent care network, officials said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

This story was updated to clarify the reimbursement process for Tricare users.

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