Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday July 26, 2018
National pharmacare ‘blueprint’ will be unveiled next spring
With more than 100 different public drug plans available across Canada, including Ontario’s recently scaled-back OHIP+, one challenge for a countrywide pharmacare program will be finding agreement on which one will work best, says Eric Hoskins.
Hoskins, the former Ontario health minister who helped usher in OHIP+ and is now in charge of developing a national plan, spoke to Canada’s premiers on Friday about the issue, the same day his advisory council launched wider public consultations online.
“There’s tremendous diversity” out there, he said, noting there are also more than 100,000 private drug plans in the country. A national pharmacare program will offer “the ability to have consistency across the country, so that a child in Ontario can expect to receive the same access to prescribed medications as a child in New Brunswick or in British Columbia or in the Northwest Territories,” he told reporters after the breakfast meeting at the picturesque Algonquin Resort.
“Changes are being made almost every day at the provincial and territorial level … (as they) try to improve access. We are trying to build consensus … so your access isn’t dependent on your postal code.”
Hoskins was joined by Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. Eight of 13 premiers attended the Friday morning session; Doug Ford was not among them.
Hoskins said premiers who didn’t make it sent senior staff, and noted that he just last week met with Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.
The big question premiers have is about a national pharmacare program is how much it will cost and the cost-sharing arrangement, both of which are still being worked out, he said.
Hoskins said a “blueprint” with full details on the model and pricing will be ready next spring.
Billions of dollars are wasted each year given the competing plans, he said, and a federal plan would see lower costs through efficiencies like bulk purchasing.
Currently, Canada spends the most per capita on prescriptions after Switzerland and the U.S. (Source: Toronto Star)