Several stakeholders from the benefits sector are partnering to form the Smart Health Benefits Coalition, an advocacy group that aims to strengthen the health-care system and address longstanding gaps in care.

The federal government will release the framework for its pharmacare program on March 1 and the coalition — comprised of representatives from Gallagher, Benefits Alliance, GroupHEALTH, Hub International Ltd., Navacord and People Corporation  — is advocating on behalf of plan sponsors and their members to help minimize the impact of the program on employer-sponsored benefits plans.

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“Our industry has hit the ground running,” says Carolyne Eagan, president of the Benefits Alliance and spokesperson for the Smart Health Benefits Coalition. “In a few short weeks, we’ve come together as a dedicated coalition to be fully engaged and active in the conversation now that legislation and next steps are becoming clearer, ”

She says the coalition has met with senior officials at Health Canada and the federal government to share its perspective. “Our coalition members have been working alongside employers across the country for decades as specialists in this industry and we understand how public and employer-paid plans impact Canadians.

“Our vision is to see something long-term sustainable and affordable. No doubt . . . both public and private sectors will need to work together to gain consistency across Canada for coverage, access, pricing and speed.”

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