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Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors, Trail – Letter to the Honourable Minister Adrian Dix

79 Lodden Rd.,
Fruitvale, BC   V0G 1L1

Minister of Health
Parliament Buildings
PO Box 9050, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC    V8V 1X4

July 29, 2021

Dear Minister Dix;

     I have a concern regarding the cost of Home Support for Seniors.

      Many years ago, my mother received Home Support.  She had vision issues and was unable to prep meals and needed other assistance to stay in her home. The projected cost was $900/month which you must agree is a pretty high cost for someone with an income of about $25,000/year. Fortunately, her case manager noticed that she had reported Earned Income on her income tax. This meant the cost was capped at $300/month. Quite a difference.

     Following up on this, I discovered that anyone receiving a pension that included a medical plan had those benefit dollars reported in the Earned Income line. This resulted in a cap which reduced the cost of Home Support by 2/3rds.  A huge reduction which kept Home Support costs much more affordable ($300 compared to $900).

      When the NDP provincial government decided to provide Medical Plans for all BC residents (which we all believed was a good thing) corporations and municipalities providing this benefit along with pensions, were no longer required to pay it. Since it began mid 2019, people still had 6 months of costs accumulated, so the taxes for 2020 maintained the Earned Income and accordingly, the cap on Home Support remained. However, this benefit is now gone and as Home Support reviews the 2020 returns, seniors are facing an increase of 2/3rds cost for Home Support Services. Also, any seniors beginning to use these services in 2021 will not receive the cap.

     The Seniors Advocate’s Office did confirm this loss, but felt it would not have much impact as they thought it did not affect many seniors. I submitted a  Freedom of Information request to Interior Health as this was the only way to attain numbers of those affected. 

     In 2020, 427 seniors living in the Interior Health area received this cap. I believe this number of people is large enough to generate a very serious concern.  It is a huge increase in cost to many who we know are on low, fixed incomes and could result in a drop of financial capability to remain in their homes. We all know there is a shortage of residential care spaces!

      I would also like to point out that as BC has a very strong Union presence, both in the private and government sectors, there are many people who had medical plans in place as a result of astute and determined bargaining. I am expecting that most BC Health Authorities will have a large percentage of Home Support clients receiving this cap.

      Minister Dix, I am hoping that since you have stated you would like to increase Home Support for Seniors, that there is a plan in place to keep it within financial reach. I look forward to your response and to hear a plan of action to address this issue.  (email:  tandt79@telus.net or 250-367-9791)

Yours sincerely,

Theresa Buchner
Director, Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors, Trail, B.C.

cc:  Minister Katrine Conroy 

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Universal Pharmacare and Federalism

By Will LeRoy — Policy Options — Sep 12 2018

Canada is the only OECD country with universal health insurance that does not include coverage of prescription pharmaceuticals. Some provinces have taken steps to provide drug insurance coverage for the poor, the elderly and people facing catastrophic costs (there are some 70 drug funding programs across the country). However, access to essential medicines depends on factors such as age, medical condition, income and province of residence. It is estimated that approximately 20 percent of Canadians have no drug insurance.

Link: Universal Pharmacare and Federalism

Click here to read the original publication: http://irpp.org/research-studies/universal-pharmacare-and-federalism-policy-options-for-canada/

Universal Pharmacare and Federalism

Policy Options for Canada

COLLEEN M. FLOOD, BRYAN THOMAS, ASAD ALI MOTEN AND PATRICK FAFARD | SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

A number of reports have recommended that Canada’s public health services be expanded to cover pharmaceuticals. This possibility is now under serious consideration, with the establishment by the federal government of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Eric Hoskins (a former Ontario cabinet minister). The council is mandated to report by spring 2019.

This study explores options for universal pharmacare in the context of Canadian federalism. The authors define universal pharmacare as a system of insurance for important medicines that is progressively financed (i.e., contributions reflect users’ income) and has no access barriers due to costly copayments. Such a system would ensure access to important medications for millions of Canadians and improve the return on investment for the money spent on pharmaceuticals. However, there is very strong opposition to universal pharmacare from private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, which often argue for “filling the gaps” rather than comprehensive reform.

The authors outline two policy options that, based on their analysis, are feasible given the constitutional division of powers. The first would be for the provinces to delegate the power to administer drug insurance plans to a new arm’s-length agency funded by the federal government. An example of such an organization is Canadian Blood Services, which on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial governments is responsible for the provision and management of a $500-million drug portfolio.

The second option would be for the federal government to adopt legislation similar to the Canada Health Act and provide an annual pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories. This would give them flexibility in the design of their respective insurance systems, with federal contributions contingent on compliance with two critical criteria: (1) universal coverage should be provided for a basket of essential drugs, without copayments or deductibles; and (2) decisions over what to include in the basket should be made by an arm’s-length body (or bodies) that would negotiate with drug companies for the best prices.

The authors point out that, under either option, private insurers would not be eliminated. However, their business model would need to change to focus on brands of drugs not included in the universal public plan.

Acknowledging the challenges of reaching the necessary intergovernmental agreement, the authors call on the federal government to make a firm commitment to leading Canada toward universal pharmacare and to begin negotiations with the provinces and territories.

Specialist Doctors for Princeton B.C.

Sept. 2015 – Phase I
An interdisciplinary project team, including representatives from Princeton family physicians, Penticton specialists, their MOAs, Princeton General Hospital (PGH) management and staff, Community Integrated Health Services administration, and Shared Care project sta set out to:

• Develop, implement and test outreach clinic formats to provide appropriate specialist care in Princeton
• Provide Princeton physicians with customized education and relationship-building opportunities through on-site CMEs (Continuing Medical Education) with visiting specialists
• Engage feedback from physicians, healthcare providers and patients about their experience with the new approaches to care

INTENDED OUTCOMES
• Improve processes, knowledge transfer, and relationships between specialists, family physicians, other healthcare providers and patients
• Improve physician, healthcare provider and patient experience
• Increase number and variety of specialist clinics in Princeton

To read more, clicl on: Specialist Doctors for Princeton B.C.