Governor Laura Kelly Urges Department of Defense Action to Ensure Health Coverage for Kansas National Guard, Veterans

TOPEKA – Today, Governor Laura Kelly sent a letter urging the Department of Defense to prevent the harmful consequences of expected changes to TRICARE, the military health care program, that would hurt rural pharmacies and create barriers to care for many Kansans. 

Express Scripts, which manages pharmacy benefits for TRICARE patients, has announced it will reduce reimbursement rates from late October 2022 through 2023. These changes will leave many pharmacies – particularly independent pharmacies in rural areas — unable to participate in the TRICARE program. Kansas is home to over 22,000 Department of Defense retirees, over 20,000 active-duty service members, over 10,000 National Guard and Reserve service members, and over 3,000 surviving spouses. A large number of these Kansans—from all corners of the state—receive health benefits through the TRICARE program. 

“I am urging the federal government to ensure that military retirees, veterans, and servicemembers and their families in Kansas can continue accessing the health services they need,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “They have sacrificed so much to protect our nation, yet these new changes jeopardize the care they deserve. They must work with rural and independent pharmacies to provide continuous coverage to our service members.”  

The changes to TRICARE will result in nearly 15,000 independent pharmacies nationwide being unable to continue providing coverage to beneficiaries. Three quarters of rural pharmacies are independent and serve populations that already have limited access to care. 

“Health care, to include access to prescription drugs, is a vital component to the sustainability of our service members and their families,” said Kansas Adjutant General Major General David Weishaar. “As service members, our focus should be on readiness, not the distraction of changing health care options.” 

“Taking care of our Service members, veterans, and their families is a moral obligation for our nation,” Lieutenant General Perry Wiggins, Executive Director of the Governor’s Military Council, said. “The issues raised by the Governor need to be addressed and corrected to ensure they continue to receive the quality health care they deserve, and we promised as a grateful nation.” 

A copy of the letter can be found here