New Brunswick only province left without catastrophic drug plan
Published Monday, May 13, 2013 7:28PM ADT
Last Updated Monday, May 13, 2013 7:30PM ADT
Last week, Prince Edward Island unveiled a catastrophic drug plan designed to protect Islanders from extreme financial hardship in the event of illness.
Islanders welcomed the news, but it came much to the dismay of New Brunswick residents, who are still waiting for their own catastrophic drug plan.
But New Brunswick Health Minister Ted Flemming is making no apologies for the province being without its own plan.
“You can charge out and put in some half-baked system because you’re reacting to political pressure, saying we’ve got to do this and do it fast, and then find out it’s a $150-million boondoggle,” says provincial Health Minister Ted Flemming. “We’re doing it right. We’re going to do it properly.”
P.E.I.’s program is based on family income, which caps drug costs at manageable levels.
“Really, it’s about allowing Islanders to get the medications they need without causing them financial hardship in terms of having to go bankrupt or sell their homes,” said P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz on Friday.
From coast to coast, provincial governments have created their own programs unique to each province, all of which are designed to protect citizens from overwhelming drug bills such as cancer medications.
Now that P.E.I. has adopted its own program, New Brunswick is left with the dubious distinction of being the only province without a catastrophic drug plan.
“From province to province to province, the programs being offered are different,” says Anne McTiernan-Gamble, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick. “That being said, New Brunswick will now be the only province without a catastrophic drug program.”
“I hope Premier Alward takes a notice of that and looks at the next neighbouring province and tries to emulate that program somewhat,” says Terry Crowe, who has a severe form of arthritis.
Crowe faces hundreds of dollars in medication bills every month and has been campaigning for a catastrophic drug plan in New Brunswick for years.
“As frustrating as it may be, the only hope we have is to have perseverance,” he says. “Hold out and know there is going to be an answer to this quandary sometime soon.”
Flemming says that when the New Brunswick plan does come out, it will be a model for other provinces to follow because it will be cost-effective and sustainable.
He plans to roll out the plan sometime next summer, before the mandate of the Alward government runs out.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron