Putting values into practice on pharmacare will come at a cost: André Picard
2019-06-13 from theglobeandmail.com
Give Dr. Eric Hoskins credit: He has articulated, with passion and reason, the need to ensure everyone has access to essential prescription drugs, regardless of ability to pay.
“It’s time to close the gap between our values and our reality. It’s time for universal single-payer public pharmacare,” he wrote to conclude “A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All,” the 184-page report from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
That 7.5 million Canadians have inadequate drug coverage is shameful and, by the panel’s reckoning, trying to fill in the gaps by expanding the mishmash of public and private drug plans that currently exists would be neither efficient nor cost-effective.
Dr. Hoskins, the panel chair, has also given the federal government what it asked for, a blueprint for providing prescription-drug coverage to all Canadians, including:
A structure: the Canadian Drug Agency would create a national formulary (a list of drugs that are covered) and negotiate drug purchases centrally;
- A timetable: the national plan would be phased in from 2022-2027, and;
- Costing: pharmacare would cost an additional $15.3-billion a year in public funds by the time it’s up-and-running in 2027;
- Some unbridled patriotism about the need to extend and expand the proud legacy of medicare that could come in handy during an election campaign.
So, let’s focus for a moment on the latter two points, the cost and the politics of national pharmacare.
The report predicts that the cost of prescription drugs will continue to rise inexorably, from $30-billion in 2017 to almost $52-billion in 2027. But, just as important as the total cost is who pays.
If we continue with our current mix of private, public and non-existent coverage, public plans would cover $23-billion, private plans $19.8-billion and there would be $8.8-billion in out-of-pocket payments, for a total of $51.6-billion come 2027.
Read more here