The Liberals will likely go all in on universal pharmacare
2019-06-12 from theglobeandmail.com
Pharmacare is now an all-or-nothing kind of political issue for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, and you have to expect they will go for it all.
Universal pharmacare, the prescription-drug equivalent to medicare, is going to be a big part of this fall’s federal election campaign.
So far, it’s only a recommendation. The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, chaired by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, decided there’s only one way to do pharmacare: with a universal, single-payer national program where individuals pay little or nothing for a prescription.
That’s a bit of a surprise. Finance Minister Bill Morneau had been talking about a modest pharmacare plan to fill the gaps between private and public insurance plans that leave some people uncovered.
But signs suggest the Liberals will embrace the big version, even if federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor wouldn’t say so outright on Wednesday. Politics give the Liberals every incentive to take it and run with it in this fall’s election campaign.
The panel headed by Dr. Hoskins, a Liberal who was health minister under former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, has always been part of a choreographed march toward the Liberals’ 2019 federal election platform. The council’s interim report was released March 6 and its recommendations were in Mr. Morneau’s 2019 budget two weeks later.
At any rate, Wednesday’s report means there isn’t much political value for Mr. Trudeau in the modest, fill-the-gaps approach to pharmacare. Dr. Hoskins’s advisory board rejected it outright.
The Liberals have political reasons to take the more ambitious path, too – especially now, when they have fallen behind the Conservatives in the polls.
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