"Seniors live on fixed incomes and are already struggling. An increase in Pharmacare costs may be the difference between rent and food on the table or medication." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President
Halifax (05 Feb. 2016) — The Nova Scotia government is, once again, making harmful changes to health care in the province. Or so it would seem.
The government issued a memo to seniors in the province with information about the proposed changes to the Pharmacare program.
Government to save millions while seniors pay the price
The memo indicated that the government intended to change the flat rate of $424 for health premiums to a sliding scale rate based on income. The rate could be as high as $1,200 per year. It also said that the government will also reduce its' copayment amount for drugs from 30 per cent to 20 per cent, up to a maximum of $382 per year.
News reports detailed that despite earlier expectations that the program changes would be revenue neutral, costing done by the Health Department indicates that the government could save as much as $10 million in premiums.
Premier backtracking after outrage at cuts
But only days after the memo went out, and the Premier was deluged with angry feedback, did he report that the memo to seniors outlining the changes to the program was “inappropriate” and didn’t convey the changes accurately.
“It left the impression that everyone was being hit with a major increase, when two thirds of seniors are having the same or reduced premiums,” said McNeil. “That letter certainly left the wrong impression. There’s no question.”
With increased costs for pharmacare, seniors will face tough choices
But it's still unclear how increasing the amount seniors pay for prescriptions and raising premiums will benefit anyone except the government.
"By going after this Seniors' Pharmacare program, the government is hurting the same people it's supposed to be helping," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees Union (NUPGE). "Seniors live on fixed incomes and are already struggling. An increase in Pharmacare costs may be the difference between rent and food on the table or medication."
NS Health Coalition files a complaint with the provincial Ombudsman over communication
The Nova Scotia Health Coalition has written a letter to the provincial Ombudsman over the government memo.
“The communications from the Department of Health on the cuts to the Seniors’ Pharmacare Program have been confusing, contradictory and full of government spin,” says Kyle Buott, provincial Coordinator of the Health Coalition. “We are hoping the Ombudsman Office can provide an unbiased accounting of the changes.”
The Liberal government has already heard from angry seniors and advocacy groups. "The Premier needs to know that government revenue cannot be found on the backs of Nova Scotia seniors," said Clancy. "Let's take that message to them."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE