COVID 19 MSO/VSOs Questions and Answers
(as of 1500, 25 MAR)
Q: When a military family member is confirmed to have COVID-19, what steps will be taken to isolate them and identify anyone they may have come in contact with? Who leads these investigations and will they notify families who may be at risk?
A: Any patient with a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is being provided with the CDC guidance on how to self-isolate. When an individual is diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 within a military medical treatment facility (MTF), the MTF notifies installation, local and/or state public health officials—these public health officials conduct a contact investigation in accordance with Service or locality protocols. For a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient who is a member of the military, the military public health takes lead on investigating potential military contacts and the local or state public health takes lead on investigating potential non-military contacts. The lead investigator will contact all effected individuals, interview them, and provide education and guidance on how to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible.
Q: Will there be extra precautions taken at the gate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like wearing gloves to take ID's? Will MPs and contractors follow standardized, DOD-established policies, or will these be put in place base-by-base, command-by-command? What protections exist for gate guards and other service members who have more potential opportunities for contact?
A: Service and component commanders in consultation with public health officials and in accordance with CDC guidance are implementing additional measures to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. These include adding force health protection measures…the use of PPE, gate guards wearing gloves and not touching ID cards, but rather scanning them. DoD personnel are being provided with protective measures based on their level of risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Q: For military families with a service member activated, mobilized, or deployed as part of a Coronavirus outbreak response: How frequently will these service members be tested for the virus?
A: The Department of Defense is following CDC guidance for the screening, testing, and quarantine of individuals based on their travel history and potential exposure history. The Service Members will be screened, tested, and quarantined in accordance with CDC guidance.
Q: What procedures can you expect will be in place to keep your family safe from potential exposure?
A: The Department of Defense is using the CDC guidance to educate all DoD personnel of the measures each individual and community can implement to reduce the spread of the virus that cause COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of military service members, civilian employees, contractors, and their families--in the workplace, the community, and at home. However, we acknowledge the infeasibility for Service Members to social distance in all cases, such as when on a submarine or a tank, etc. We ask that Service Members take prudent measures as best they can, given their situation and mission. SECDEF has called upon commanders and senior NCOs at all levels to assess their situation and avoid putting a large number of people in small rooms. Alternatives include holding meetings outside or meeting in smaller groups. He has also encouraged Service Members, no matter how junior, to inform their chain of command if they see something that does not make sense of that could be done more safely next time.
Q: What are my pharmacy options during the COVID pandemic?
A: The TRICARE pharmacy benefit is built to take care of our service members, veterans, retirees and their families with flexible options to meet beneficiary needs. We deliver the pharmacy benefit through multiple points of service, to include offering the opportunity to limit exposure to the public by employing our safe and convenient home delivery option for maintenance medications (drugs taken for long term conditions).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance includes the recommendation to have a supply of necessary medications on hand. TRICARE offers beneficiaries the option to get a 90- day supply of their prescriptions at military pharmacies, via TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery, or at retail network pharmacies.
As a first step, beneficiaries should ensure they have refills remaining on their prescription. Each prescription bottle indicates the number of refills remaining. If there are no refills left, they will need to call their healthcare provider. If enough refills remain, beneficiaries can get a 90-day supply at military pharmacies, via TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery, or at retail network pharmacies.
Military pharmacies offer up to a 90-day supply of most medications at no cost to beneficiaries (quantity limits still apply). After military pharmacies, home delivery is the most affordable option. Beneficiaries can switch to home delivery to get up to a 90-day supply delivered right to their door (copays apply). At a retail network pharmacy, beneficiaries can get up to three, 30-day supplies (copays apply). You can ask your doctor to write your prescription for a 90-day supply. You can access up to three, 30-day supplies at a time at retail (three copays apply) or fill it at TRICARE Home Delivery through Express Scripts (one copay applies). For example, the copayment for a 90-day supply of generic medication is $10 with home delivery compared to $39 for three 30-day supplies from a retail pharmacy.
We strongly encourage beneficiaries consider home delivery whenever possible because it provides a convenient and affordable way to get medications without leaving the house. There are many convenient ways to switch a prescription to home delivery to include by phone, online, and via the Express Scripts mobile app.
Q: Also, questions are being asked about pharmaceutical supply chains and reimbursement for payments of additional prescriptions.
A: Currently there are no pharmacy supply chain issues/outages as a result of COVID-19 and the Defense Logistics Agency is engaged with Prime Vendors to ensure Military pharmacies get their fair share if shortages do occur.
Q: At 17 MAR 2020 Facebook live event, a subject matter expect indicated that beneficiaries can get early prescriptions through Express Scripts. Can you please provide clarification?
A: At this time, there is no plan to waive refill restrictions to get prescriptions refilled early. TRICARE offers beneficiaries the option to get a 90-day supply of their prescriptions at military pharmacies, via TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery, or at retail network pharmacies. We understand the desire to be prepared. Present conditions do not call for us to enact early refills at Home Delivery or retail, but we are monitoring the situation closely and are updating our information and policy if or when the situation changes. We are encouraging beneficiaries to refill their medications at the appropriate time. Standard refill policies, which allow you to refill or renew a prescription medication when 25% of your current prescription is remaining, should help you stay on track with your medication during this time. Should you have any questions or concerns about your individual situation, pharmacists are available 24/7 to