Outrageous! UCP Says They Will Opt Out of Pharmacare Before Even Seeing Details

Outrageous! UCP Says They Will Opt Out of Pharmacare Before Even Seeing Details

EDMONTON -- On Friday, it was announced that the federal NDP and Liberals had reached a deal on Pharmacare that would include single-payer coverage of contraceptives and diabetes medication and equipment, with full details and draft legislation to be revealed this week. Yesterday, Alberta Health Minister Adrianne LaGrange’s office released a statement stating they already intend to opt out of the coming national Pharmacare plan, even before the details have been publicly announced.

“By pre-empting their decision on Pharmacare even before the federal announcement is made, Danielle Smith’s government has made it clear they would rather play politics than get things done to help Albertans. By doing so, they are siding with the profits of big pharmaceutical and insurance corporations over the health and well-being of Albertans,” said Chris Gallaway executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Canada currently pays some of the highest drug costs in the world, and millions are struggling to afford the medications that they need. It is well documented that moving to a national, single-payer Pharmacare plan would save governments, employers, Albertans, and our provincial health care systems billions of dollars per year. And most importantly it would save countless lives!” 

In spite of well-documented savings that would be achieved with a universal Pharmacare plan, the comments released by the minister’s office states they are worried about what the program will cost provinces. The statement also claims that “All Albertans already have access to government-sponsored health benefit plans, which include drug coverage a deliberately misleading statement that belies the fact that one in five Canadian households still cannot afford to fill their prescriptions.

“To claim that all Albertans have access to drug coverage because they can buy a benefit plan if they can afford one is intentionally misleading and beyond offensive,” said Gallaway. ”This is not the same as all Albertans having universal access to afford the drugs they need through our public health care system and the Minister knows it.”

This is the same UCP government that recently rejected providing universal coverage for contraceptives, previously tried to take universal insulin pump coverage away, and has so far failed to deliver on expanding the program to include necessary equipment such as Continuous Glucose Monitors. Universal coverage for both contraceptives and diabetes medication and equipment are part of the proposed new national program. 

“When the UCP tried to take universal insulin pump coverage away, Albertans fought back loudly to say no way, we support universal coverage in our province. In fact, the widespread push back is the only reason they backed down from their horrible idea. The UCP clearly cannot be trusted to provide the medications that Albertans need, when they need them,” said Gallaway.

“The fact is, Canada remains the only country with a universal Medicare program that does not include prescription medications. At a moment when so many Albertans are struggling with the cost of living, and access to the health care they need, it is outrageous to see our provincial government working to undermine this long-overdue expansion of our public health care coverage,” concluded Gallaway.

Friends of Medicare continues to encourage Albertans to join the tens of thousands of others who have already told their Members of Parliament that they support a national, single-payer Pharmacare plan and to get it done.


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