News Release

BC Health Coalition
November 18, 2019
(Unceded Coast Salish Territories – Vancouver, BC) 

On Monday, November 18th, final arguments began in the Charter challenge that put public health care on trial.

The legal attack launched by one of the largest for-profit clinics in Canada seeks to invalidate key protections in the BC Medicare Protection Act which prohibit physician extra billing and duplicate private insurance for medically necessary procedures.This case is the most serious threat that the public health care system has ever faced. It seeks to erase from our laws the fundamental concept of care based on need, not ability to pay. 

“We joined this court case because we believe in defending a public health care system where everyone is covered, everyone is treated equally, and no one goes broke paying for their care,” said Edith MacHattie, a representative of the Coalition Intervenors, which includes the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

“Brian Day and his lawyers have argued that it’s okay to profit off people’s illnesses. We disagree. All that this case has proven is that a private for-profit system would improve access for the healthiest and wealthiest while creating longer wait times for everybody else. Privatized for-profit health care means that you’ll pay more, get less and be worse off.“ continued MacHattie to a group of community members gathered outside the courthouse

Contrary to CEO Day’s claims, this case is not about protecting patients’ rights or solving the issue of wait times. Cambie Surgeries has not proven that the laws protecting public health care cause lengthy wait times or harm patients’ access to care. Instead, the evidence has shown that public solutions are the best cure for the problem of wait times, and allowing a private tier of health care would worsen wait times for all but the wealthy, and drain resources from the public system.

In Australia, private insurance was encouraged with the goal of reducing wait times, but in fact what occurred is that wait times in the public sector did not improve; in areas where private health care was most used, wait times in the public system went up. [Defendant’s Closing Submissions, p. 375-376]

Expansion of private insurance and care would disproportionately impact patients who are not considered “profitable” in the private system. Glyn Townsend, standing in front of a banner that read “Save Our Medicare”, spoke about the negative impact of a two-tier healthcare system on those with complex health issues and chronic illnesses.

Glyn, who has required health care to monitor and treat his HIV for almost 30 years – has been able to access care because Canada’s health care is publicly funded. If Glyn had been forced to pay for his necessary hospital visits, which have included admission for chicken pox and one for severe shingles, he might have been forced to choose between his health and bankruptcy.

The final arguments of the controversial case will be heard over the next 3 weeks. 

CONTACT
Ayendri Riddell
Campaigner, BC Health Coalition
Phone:  604-787-6560
Email:   ayendri@bchealthcoalition.ca
http://bchealthcoalition.nationbuilder.com/
British Columbia Health Coalition · 3102 Main St, 302, Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, BC V5T 3G7, Canada 

Universal Pharmacare and Federalism

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Policy Options for Canada

COLLEEN M. FLOOD, BRYAN THOMAS, ASAD ALI MOTEN AND PATRICK FAFARD | SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

Canada is the only OECD country with universal health insurance that does not include coverage of prescription pharmaceuticals. Some provinces have taken steps to provide drug insurance coverage for the poor, the elderly and people facing catastrophic costs (there are some 70 drug funding programs across the country). However, access to essential medicines depends on factors such as age, medical condition, income and province of residence. It is estimated that approximately 20 percent of Canadians have no drug insurance.

A number of reports have recommended that Canada’s public health services be expanded to cover pharmaceuticals. This possibility is now under serious consideration, with the establishment by the federal government of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Eric Hoskins (a former Ontario cabinet minister). The council is mandated to report by spring 2019.

This study explores options for universal pharmacare in the context of Canadian federalism. The authors define universal pharmacare as a system of insurance for important medicines that is progressively financed (i.e., contributions reflect users’ income) and has no access barriers due to costly copayments. Such a system would ensure access to important medications for millions of Canadians and improve the return on investment for the money spent on pharmaceuticals. However, there is very strong opposition to universal pharmacare from private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, which often argue for “filling the gaps” rather than comprehensive reform.

The authors outline two policy options that, based on their analysis, are feasible given the constitutional division of powers. The first would be for the provinces to delegate the power to administer drug insurance plans to a new arm’s-length agency funded by the federal government. An example of such an organization is Canadian Blood Services, which on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial governments is responsible for the provision and management of a $500-million drug portfolio.

The second option would be for the federal government to adopt legislation similar to the Canada Health Act and provide an annual pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories. This would give them flexibility in the design of their respective insurance systems, with federal contributions contingent on compliance with two critical criteria: (1) universal coverage should be provided for a basket of essential drugs, without copayments or deductibles; and (2) decisions over what to include in the basket should be made by an arm’s-length body (or bodies) that would negotiate with drug companies for the best prices.

The authors point out that, under either option, private insurers would not be eliminated. However, their business model would need to change to focus on brands of drugs not included in the universal public plan.

Acknowledging the challenges of reaching the necessary intergovernmental agreement, the authors call on the federal government to make a firm commitment to leading Canada toward universal pharmacare and to begin negotiations with the provinces and territories.

The Case for Universal Pharmacare

A more competitive Canadian economy by lessening the growing costs of employers’ sponsored benefit plans

Reduced health care costs by decreasing rates of prescription nonadherence

Equitable financing rather than saddling patients with costly medical bills

More affordable medicines due to lower administrative costs than the current multipayer systems for Canada at IRPP.org

Equitable access regardless of one’s age, health condition, or economic status

http://irpp.org/research-studies/universal-pharmacare-and-federalism-policy-options-for-canada/

BC Rural Health Network- new member community

Welcome

A warm welcome to the newest member of the BC Rural Health Network: East Shore Kootenay Lake Community Health Society.
ESKLCHS represents the following communities: Riondel, Crawford Bay, Kootenay Bay, Gray Creek, Boswell, Sanca, and Twin Bays

ESKLCHS represents  the following communities:
Riondel, Crawford Bay, Kootenay Bay, Gray Creek, Boswell, Sanca, Twin Bays

Too many Canadians can’t afford their medication

Pharma

Letter to the Editor

Princeton Similkameen Spotlight

William L. Day

11 July 2018

The House Of Commons All-Party Standing Committee on Health has recently endorsed and recommended the implementation of a Canadian Pharmacare Program.

Many currently healthy people are not aware that prescription drugs are covered by our Canada health insurance only while the client is in hospital. Insurance outside the hospi- tal varies greatly among provinces and territories.

For example, the same out-of-hospital cancer treatment can cost you $0 in Nunavut; $3,000 in BC; $20,000 in PEI.

Currently, Canadians pay more for prescription medications than citizens in any other of the 29 wealthy OECD countries except Switzerland and the USA.

More than three million Canadians are under-insured or uninsured for prescription drugs outside approved hospitals.

Researchers have found that overall, 5.5 per cent of respondents across Canada reported they couldn’t take their medications as prescribed because of costs. In B.C., the propor- tion falling through such cracks in the health system was highest among all provinces and territories, at 8.11 per cent.

Unlike all other industrialized countries, neither the USA nor Canada have established a drug plan that would allow their national governments to negotiate drug prices on behalf of their entire population.

In summary, Canada remains the only industrialized country with universal health insur- ance but no national Pharmacare strategy for its citizens.

The Support Our Health Care Society (SOHC) of Princeton will be doing its best to ac- quaint Similkameen residents with our collective problem and opportunity. We will be providing information in Princeton at retail outlets and surveying our local public on the issue. We intend to inform our MPs and MLAs of our activities and findings. To date, they have been very receptive. Readers are encouraged to go to the government website to read the original complete document and join the discussion:
https://www.letstalkhealth.ca/pharmacare.

The power to engineer this change lies with us, with Ottawa and our collective Members of Parliament and MLAs. They are listening and waiting for us to signal our support for change.

The Time Has Come.

Yours respectfully,

Bill Day, Vice President, Support Our Health Care Society, Princeton BC

Too many Canadians can’t afford their medication