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Possible changes at MTF pharmacies in response to COVID-19

A military pharmacist choosing medication from a shelf Air Force Staff Sgt. Montea Armstrong, 17th Medical Group pharmacy technician, fills a prescription at the Ross Clinic’s pharmacy on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, March 23, 2020. The 17th MDG activated a drive-in pharmacy to minimize personnel in the clinics and medical staff delivered prescriptions to the patients outside the clinic in their cars. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Abbey Rieves)

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In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, military treatment facilities and pharmacies under the Military Health System may need to change or limit access or services available to non-active duty service members, their families, or retired beneficiaries. Military commanders of MTFs will make local determination of which services may be limited, but those decisions will be based on ensuring the health, safety, and security of patients, staff, and beneficiaries.

“The health and protection of our patients, health care teammates, and the community is essential as we preserve the fighting force,” said Col Markus Gmehlin, Defense Health Agency Pharmacy Operations Division (POD) acting chief. “We are taking necessary steps to ensure that our teams who are caring for patients and delivering critical medications do so in a safe environment. This may mean temporary limitations to military pharmacy services. We are committed to ensuring that you have access to your prescriptions via home delivery and/or retail network pharmacies in the event that military pharmacy services are temporarily disrupted.”

Careful local assessments will determine the status of each individual military pharmacy and may result in temporary measures to adapt to this changing situation. In extreme cases, there may be temporary, partial, or full limitations of military MTF pharmacy services. These will be temporary solutions that will be assessed daily.

In the case of a local outbreak or a confirmed case of COVID-19 at military MTF pharmacy, MTF commanders are authorized to limit pharmacy services as necessary. This may include:

  • Alternative pickup options (staggered pickup times, curbside pickup, etc.).
  • The temporary transfer of non-enrolled, non-active duty service members (ADSMs) and/or non-active duty family members to home delivery or retail.
  • The temporary closure of a military pharmacy.

MTF commanders will make a case-by-case determination based on the severity of the spread of COVID-19 at a specific location. If pharmacy services are limited, they will be assessed and reopened as soon as it is safe for personnel and beneficiaries.

TRICARE beneficiaries have several options available to ensure continued access to needed medications. TRICARE pharmacy home delivery allows beneficiaries to order up to a 90-day supply of most medications safely and conveniently, with delivery to their home addresses in the U.S. or an APO/FPO address. (Please note that quantity limits apply; laws for mailing certain medications such as controlled substances vary state-by-state; home delivery is not available in Germany; and co-pays apply for non-active duty beneficiaries).

To switch to home delivery, the easiest way to transfer your prescription is via the Express Scripts mobile app or online at the TRICARE website.

Beneficiaries who need prescriptions urgently can access up to three, 30-day supplies of medications at retail network pharmacies. Copays will apply. Copayments are directed by statute and DoD cannot waive them.

Beneficiaries with an active prescription on file at a military pharmacy can ask their retail pharmacist to contact the military pharmacy to make a transfer. In the event the transfer cannot be coordinated, beneficiaries may need to call their prescriber to obtain a prescription that they can take to their pharmacy of choice.

For beneficiaries needing to refill their prescriptions, patrons are reminded that standard refill policies apply. Please wait until only 25% of the prescription remains before submitting a request to refill a prescription.

Beneficiaries with questions or concerns should contact ExpressScripts, where pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions, offer counseling and support, and assist with prescription orders. Call ExpressScripts at 877-363-1303.

TRICARE beneficiaries can also call their local MTF pharmacy. Visit the TRICARE website to find a pharmacy’s phone number.

To find a retail network pharmacy, visit the ExpressScripts website.

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DoD COVID-19 Practice Management Guide Version 5

Technical Document
7/30/2020

This Practice Management Guide does not supersede DoD Policy. It is based upon the best information available at the time of publication. It is designed to provide information and assist decision making. It is not intended to define a standard of care and should not be construed as one. Neither should it be interpreted as prescribing an exclusive course of management. It was developed by experts in this field. Variations in practice will inevitably and appropriately occur when clinicians take into account the needs of individual patients, available resources, and limitations unique to an institution or type of practice. Every healthcare professional making use of this guideline is responsible for evaluating the appropriateness of applying it in the setting of any particular clinical situation. The Practice Management Guide is not intended to represent TRICARE policy. Further, inclusion of recommendations for specific testing and/or therapeutic interventions within this guide does not guarantee coverage of civilian sector care. Additional information on current TRICARE benefits may be found at www.tricare.mil or by contacting your regional TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractor.

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