July 14, 2011

Gillibrand Urges Walgreens To Renew Contract With TRICARE

New York’s Military Vets, Retirees Would Be Cut Off from Access to Prescriptions at Nation’s Largest Pharmacy Chain

New York, NY – After Walgreens announced that it will cut ties with TRICARE pharmacy military insurance by this year’s end, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Walgreens CEO to come back to the negotiating table and renew a contract with Express Scripts, Inc., the company that manages TRICARE’s pharmacy program, in order to prevent New York’s military veterans, retirees, and their families from being forced to meet their prescription needs elsewhere. New York veterans would be hit especially hard since there are nearly 500 Walgreen pharmacies across the state, including more than 250 Walgreens-owned Duane Reade pharmacies in the New York City area.

In a letter to Walgreens President and CEO Gregory Wasson, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “I am requesting your personal involvement to reconsider this decision and renew the contract to provide TRICARE coverage before the contract expires on 31 December, 2011… If the contract with TRICARE Retail Pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts, is not renewed, many retirees and their families will face a major inconvenience, and in some cases a significant hardship, in seeking alternatives for their prescription needs, especially in areas where drug store choices are limited… I hope you agree with me that we must do all we can to support our veterans and respectfully request your review of this critical issue.” 

The recent decision made by Walgreens, the nation’s largest drug store chain, to leave TRICARE network would place a heavy burden on many veterans, retirees, and their families throughout New York and around the country. Veterans without convenient access to facilities for their medical needs would be forced to find new pharmacies. 

Walgreens processes 90 million prescriptions totaling more than $5 billion in annual revenue through Express Scripts. TRICARE, which provides benefits for active service members and retirees, is one of Express Scripts’ largest clients.

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter is below:

Dear Mr. Wasson,

I am very concerned and disappointed with Walgreens’ recent decision to suspend negotiations to renew a contract with TRICARE Retail Pharmacy’s contractor, Express Scripts, Inc.  I am requesting your personal involvement to reconsider this decision and renew the contract to provide TRICARE coverage before the contract expires on 31 December, 2011.

TRICARE Pharmacy benefits provide a critical healthcare service for military veterans, especially for those who don't always have easy access to base facilities for their medical needs.  As Walgreens is the largest drug store chain in the country, the additional burdens placed on retired military members to find alternative locations to fill necessary prescriptions will likely be significant in a number of locations.

If the contract with TRICARE Retail Pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts, is not renewed, many retirees and their families will face a major inconvenience, and in some cases a significant hardship, in seeking alternatives for their prescription needs, especially in areas where drug store choices are limited.  Those suffering will be the same people and their families who have served and sacrificed for our country.

I hope you agree with me that we must do all we can to support our veterans and respectfully request your review of this critical issue.