U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton deferred to free market principles when asked Tuesday in Pine Bluff what he thought of the Walgreens decision to pull out of the Tricare retail pharmacy network, which serves military personnel and their families.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton deferred to free market principles when asked Tuesday in Pine Bluff what he thought of the Walgreens decision to pull out of the Tricare retail pharmacy network, which serves military personnel and their families.

“That is a complicated contractual matter,” Cotton said during an interview session inside the Walgreens location on West 28th Avenue. “We need to let the market decide in terms of competition to provide customers with the best options.”

Cotton was in Pine Bluff to tour what he said is the first Walgreens store in the state to offer a more customer-friendly pharmacy experience that also improves efficiency.

“I came to Pine Bluff today at the invitation of Walgreens,” Cotton said. “This is the first Walgreens location in Arkansas to incorporate a new pharmacy format that is more customer centered. This is an exciting pilot project here in Arkansas. They showed me their new computerized system for counting pills that eliminates the need for the pharmacist to take out that knife and count out the right amount of pills.”

Cotton said the computerized system allowed pharmacy technicians to focus on their jobs and allowed the pharmacist to have more time with customers.

“They also now have a consultation room that is more like what clinics offer,” Cotton said. “This is the first one here in Arkansas. It’s all part of increasing the quality of and access to health care. They are able to both increase efficiency and to better serve their customers.”

Cotton said the pharmacy now has a desk area in front of the pharmacy counter to provide customers with greater accessibility for consultation about medications and to provide additional clinical services.

Cotton touched on his opposition to the roll out of the various components of Obamacare.

“If Washington liberals want to come after me for being against Obamacare, that’s OK with me,” Cotton said. “Part of Obamacare has already been declared unconstitutional.”

Cotton is in Arkansas this week for the Fourth of July congressional recess.