Mandatory drug coverage eliminated, Liberals announce
Comprehensive review of plan introduced by former government to be conducted
CBC News Posted: Dec 09, 2014 4:29 PM AT Last Updated: Dec 09, 2014 4:29 PM AT
New Brunswickers will not be forced to have prescription drug coverage, Health Minister Victor Boudreau announced on Tuesday.
Boudreau introduced amendments to the provincial Prescription and Catastrophic Drug Insurance Act that eliminate the mandatory requirement under Phase 2 of the Progressive Conservative’s plan, which was slated to take effect on April 1.
”This is a temporary solution,” pending a comprehensive review, said Boudreau.
“Our government is committed to reviewing the New Brunswick drug plan to ensure that its costs are reasonable for individuals, its coverage is sufficient and employers are not subject to a required contribution,” Boudreau said in a statement.
Under Phase 2, a family earning $50,000 would be forced to pay $1,400 per year per adult, he said.
“Our government will also provide additional premium relief to lower-income individuals to ensures costs, for those that choose to join the New Brunswick drug plan, are fair and reasonable,” said Boudreau.
The voluntary Phase 1 remains in place, but low enrolment numbers show it’s not set up properly, he said.
“We were being told this plan was there to address the needs of 150,000 New Brunswickers that were without drug coverage. In fact to date only 2,400 people have taken the program up,” said Boudreau.
“That’s a pretty clear indication to me that the program is not meeting the needs it was set out for.”
Former health minister Ted Flemming, who introduced the plan, had said people who couldn’t afford the premiums would be subsidized.
But there was no subsidy plan in place before the Liberals won the election in September.
Flemming, now a Progressive Conservative MLA, contends by freezing Phase 1, the Liberals are shifting from a sustainable insurance plan to a costly social program.
He previously referred to the drug plan as the most important piece of health legislation since the introduction of medicare.