Tricare is loosening prescription refill requirements for all beneficiaries living anywhere in California due to wildfires across the state, it announced Wednesday.
Military personnel, retirees and military family members can take their prescription bottles to refill at any Tricare retail network pharmacy, which can be found online or by calling Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303. Tricare initiated emergency prescription refills for other natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian.
The latest wildfire started early Wednesday morning near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and has affected 26,000 people as more than a thousand acres have burned, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Another fire in Sonoma County started a week ago and has burned more than 200 buildings and 76,825 acres so far, according to California's fire department.
The emergency prescription refill applies to all of California's 58 counties.
Tricare is encouraging its beneficiaries to first visit the pharmacy where the prescription was filled, if possible. Otherwise, prescriptions filled at a retail chain can be filled at another store in that chain or, if the prescribing doctor is available, he or she can send a new prescription to any network pharmacy.
The move comes after Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie raised concerns in a letter Monday to Gov. Gavin Newsom about how planned power outages to prevent fires will hurt veterans who have refrigerated medications.
In response to Wilkie's letter, CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani suggested the federal VA office take the following steps to help veterans affected by the wildfires and blackouts:
- Ask the Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to stop cutting off veterans and other low-income people during times of food insecurity, like planned power outages;
- Open more Community-Based Outpatient Clinics in rural areas;
- Identify what's keeping veterans from accessing Indian Health Services in underserved, rural areas.
"A refrigerator full of spoiled food for a person on CalFresh [a state food-assistance program] can constitute a real hardship," Imbasciani wrote.
Meanwhile, he added, among other protections, his office has been contacting veterans who bought homes in the wildfire area through the state's home loan program to check in on them and is providing for the homeless until they can rebuild their homes.
"We appreciate your stated concern for these veterans," Imbasciani wrote to Wilkie, "and please rest assured, we are deeply focused on serving California's veterans in this time of need."
-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.