Yesterday, the provincial government announced changes to its insulin pump benefits program, impacting up to 4,000 Albertans with diabetes. Instead, people will have to seek coverage via private workplace insurance plans, or government benefit plans, potentially leaving many Albertans subject to costly co-pays and premiums.
Alberta’s complex patchwork of private and public drug and supplementary health benefit plans has left far too many of us struggling to pay for the medications and treatments we need. An estimated 420 working-aged Canadians with diabetes die each year because they don't have adequate access to their medications.
“This kind of short-sighted pursuit of ‘savings’ has become par for the course for this government,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “They’re intent on balancing their budget on the backs of patients and families, with no consideration for the long-term impacts on Albertans, or the downstream costs on our public health care system as a result of health complications incurred by patients who will inevitably be unable to afford their treatments.”
In March 2020, more than 40,000 Albertans were kicked off of their drug plans following changes to the Alberta Seniors Drug Benefit program. Recommendations made in the government’s Facility-Based Continuing Care review would see the introduction of a co-pay for some home-care services, passing any costs onto seniors and their families. Proposed cuts to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program were only shelved following significant backlash from Albertans, but rates remain frozen.
“Every step of the way we’ve seen this government prioritize the profits of private providers over the health care needs of Albertans,” said Gallaway. “This is just one more way that this government is attempting to offload its responsibility to provide health care, putting patients’ health in jeopardy and making life less affordable for Albertans and their families.”
Friends of Medicare and people across the province fought for the implementation of the insulin pump program in 2013, only to see it being unceremoniously quashed less than a decade later. COVID-19 and the subsequent mismanagement of this pandemic by our government has resulted in not only health care, but daily life becoming increasingly unaffordable for Albertans. Now more than ever it’s crucial that our governments invest in the public services that we all rely on, especially our public health care.
“Rather than clawing back the programs and services that make life livable for the people in our communities, we should be protecting and strengthening our public services, and making the much-needed and long-overdue investments to expand our public Medicare,” said Gallaway.
“Canadians have been waiting for universal Pharmacare for decades, leaving far too many without access to the medications they need,” continues Gallaway. “These stop-gap, means-based approaches to drug and treatment coverage always leave people to fall through the cracks. It’s time we commit to true universality in our health care, so we can finally ensure that everyone has access to the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay.”
Friends of Medicare urges Albertans to contact Premier Kenney, Health Minister Copping and their MLA and urge them to reverse cuts to the insulin pump benefits program, and to send an email to the federal government to demand universal pharmacare using our one-click tool.
Premier Kenney Health
Email: [email protected]
Health Minister Jason Copping
Find your MLA and their contact information here.