Tricare no longer supporting veterans and small pharmacies

by Rick Hughes

Orcas Island

My name is Rick Hughes and my wife and I operate a rural, independent pharmacy on a remote island in Washington State (Orcas Island). Ray’s General Store and Pharmacy serve 6000 local residents and over 400,000 visitors to our island community. Ray’s has provided over 6,500 COVID vaccines, provided testing and has served our small community since 1973.

A retired veteran recently informed me that he could no longer be my customer because Tricare and their pharmacy benefit manager informed them that Ray’s is out of network. Tricare via Express Scripts, is now paying independent pharmacies so low on reimbursements that we can not cover the ingredient cost.

Independent pharmacies are the lifeblood of America and provide rural access to care. Why are our Military and government attempting to reduce and potentially eliminate amazing small business owners who serve their communities 24/7?

I am at a loss for words. My heart is broken that I’m not able to help local veterans and their families. I do not understand this constant push to support PBMs at the expense of local pharmacies. Please help us tell our elected officials to provide fair payment, and stop trying to eliminate all of the community pharmacies. The time to act is now!

This is a letter explaining the issue:

You may have received a letter from Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager that administers the TRICARE benefit, that our pharmacy may soon no longer be in the network. We are extremely saddened by these developments, and we have enjoyed the privilege of serving your healthcare needs.

Why Did TRICARE make these Changes?

Recently, the Department of Defense awarded a $4 billion contract to Express Scripts and at the same time reduced the size of the retail pharmacy network. Express Scripts, which owns its own mail-order and specialty pharmacy and is a direct competitor to independent pharmacies, has slashed payments to community pharmacies thus making it nearly impossible for a pharmacy to be able to participate and serve our military and their families. This action will take pharmacy choice away from you, and from millions of other active and retired military and their families.

What can you do?

Submit a complaint about your pharmacy of choice being excluded from the TRICARE network by calling1-877-363-1303 or sending an email to Also mail a hard copy of your complaint directly to:

Defense Health Agency

Pharmaceutical Operations Directorate

7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101

Falls Church, VA 22042-5101•

Contact your U.S. Senators and representative. Look up their contact information here:

Share your story on social media, tagging @MilitaryHealth, @TRICARE, and @ExpressScripts in your posts.

Submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.