Seniors cautious after government scraps changes to drug plan
Saturday, Mar 08, 2014 06:00 am
A local seniors chapter is pleased with the government’s decision to toss out major changes proposed for the seniors’ drug plan, but are still treading carefully.
Health Minister Fred Horne recently announced the province would scrap the proposed means-tested seniors’ drug plan where prescription drug coverage would be based on income.
“It’s great news,” said Dick Tansey, vice president of the St. Albert chapter of Seniors United Now. “For the last year, we’ve been pressing the government to give us some indication of what this actually means because nobody knows.”
Announced in last year’s budget, the new drug plan was to take effect Jan. 1. It was expected to cut $180 million from seniors’ drug costs and provide coverage for 20 per cent of Albertans who didn’t have plans.
The decision to scrap the plan has come one month after members of Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors Task Force staged a sit-in in Horne’s constituency office demanding a meeting with the premier about pharmacare.
Tansey is happy the drug plan is off the table, but is still cautious of what is to come. Basing seniors drug coverage on income has been in the works since it was first proposed in 2008.
“Before we jump too high, we will be monitoring what is to be revealed,” said Tansey.
“You can never say never with this government. Last time they said it was on the shelf. But this time it sounds like it’s been thrown out completely.”
Tansey said he isn’t sure how the second part of the plan – to consolidate an existing 18 drug programs – which is still going forward, will affect seniors.
In this year’s provincial budget, $1.5 billion has been allotted for comprehensive drug and supplemental health benefits for seniors and other Albertans.