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Experts warn that the pharmacare bill could reduce drug coverage for millions of Canadians

The Trudeau government’s newly introduced pharmacare bill is under fire, with experts warning it could drastically reduce prescription drug coverage for millions across Canada. Montreal Economic Institute researcher Emmanuelle Faubert blasted the legislation as a potential federal takeover of drug insurance, endangering the quality of coverage for countless Canadians reliant on private plans.

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Emmanuelle Faubert

Emmanuelle Faubert

“The New Democrats have been very clear about their intent with this legislation: they see it as a Trojan horse to implement a federal monopoly on drug insurance,” Faubert said. “Unfortunately, as can be seen in every province, government-run prescription insurance plans cover only a fraction of what private plans do.

“There’s a very decent chance that this federal pharmacare plan could lower coverage quality for the millions of Canadians who rely on private insurance plans for their prescription medication.”

Should the proposed legislation pass, Faubert said, it would lead to the creation of a federal monopoly overseeing insurance coverage for key medications, including birth control and diabetes treatments. The legislation plans to set up the Canadian Drug Agency, responsible for formulating a national strategy for the bulk procurement of these drugs and establishing a list of medications that will be reimbursed under the scheme. This development represents a major overhaul in the approach to prescription drug coverage in Canada.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has already hinted at plans to extend the range of drugs covered under this federal scheme even further. Historical data reveals a stark contrast in drug coverage, with private plans offering substantially more than public options between 2018 and 2021, particularly in Quebec, which has the broadest public coverage.

According to a recent MEI study, adopting a nationwide plan akin to Quebec’s would still result in a downgrade for over 21 million Canadians. The study also highlights the probable delays in accessing new medications under the federal plan, a stark contrast to the more efficient private sector.

Alberta and Quebec are poised to reject the federal pharmacare program, insisting that healthcare falls strictly within provincial jurisdiction. The possibility for provinces to opt out of the program remains a contentious issue.

“Ottawa needs to start trusting provincial governments to take care of their own responsibilities rather than repeatedly overstepping into their jurisdiction,” Faubert said.

To interview Emmanuelle Faubert, click here.

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