CLHIA: Government's pharmacare plan set to be "more burdensome"

Leader points to what the association considers the right approach

CLHIA: Government's pharmacare plan set to be "more burdensome"

Life & Health

By Terry Gangcuangco

Bill C-64, or what will be known as Canada’s Pharmacare Act, has been introduced by Minister of Health Mark Holland, and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) is not supportive of the proposal.

The legislation is centred on the provision of universal, single-payer coverage for certain contraception and diabetes medications. CLHIA, members of which provide drug and supplementary health benefits to more than 27 million people, voiced significant concerns with the national plan.

“For the last six years, Canada’s life and health insurers have told the federal government that we believe all Canadians should be able to access the drugs they’ve been prescribed,” CLHIA president and chief executive Stephen Frank noted in a statement.

“We have told the government that the way to improve drug coverage is to build on the workplace plans that millions of working people and their families value and rely on, by providing targeted benefits to the relatively small number of Canadians who lack public or private drug coverage now.”

Frank expressed strong disapproval of the pharmacare proposal, asserting that it would not do the above. Instead, he said, billions of dollars would be spent unnecessarily on medications for people who already have coverage.

“It will replace what is working with a government program that will become more burdensome and expensive over time,” Frank declared. “And it will put at risk the workplace benefit plans that 27 million Canadians count on, making life less affordable for millions of families.

“Private insurance plans offer coverage for nearly twice as many drugs as even the best public plan. Canadians don’t want the federal government picking and choosing which drugs get covered and which don’t.”

In CLHIA’s view, the Pharmacare Act isn’t the right way to go.

“We believe the right approach is to support existing benefit plans that are working well, and to target federal investment towards those who don’t have coverage today, not those who already do,” Frank said.

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