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National Pharmacare: A life-changing plan

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The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released its final report today. The recommendations include:

  • Universal coverage for a list of essential medicines by 2022
  • Covering all Canadian residents
  • Paying for the program through general revenues
  • Immediate development of a national strategy for expensive drugs for rare diseases.

The report provides extensive background on how the recommendations were developed. It includes analysis of current drug spending, drug pricing, and current programs providing coverage. The proposed pharmacare plan takes much of the heavy lifting from employer drug plans. This gives employers the opportunity to address other employee needs.

A difficult transition, but a great path forward

As noted in the report, the proposed strategy for national pharmacare is transformational and life-changing. Having watched employers face rapidly escalating costs while looking for ways to support employees with serious illnesses requiring high-cost drugs, I’m optimistic about the implementation of this program. Young people with chronic diseases with high-cost treatments would have flexibility in their careers and their choice of employers. Employers will not have to make life-and-death decisions through their drug plans. This is a great path forward.

But I am not so naïve as to think it will be an easy transition. Given the timelines, there are many hurdles to jump, not the least of which will be the fall Federal election. Still, I look forward to the day when all the hurdles are behind us and high-cost drugs are no longer a threat to Canadians with serious diseases, or to the businesses that employ them.

Watch for a soon-to-be-released Buck FYI with all the details of the report and what it means to plan sponsors.

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