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Tax hike inevitable if Canada wants national pharmacare, former PBO warns

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The advisory council doesn’t include any pharma, eligibility or adjudication expertise, actuarial expertise and limited medical expertise. How can a budget chief make any comment about tax impact when he doesn’t know what the eligibility criteria will be, not to mention formulary, co-pay, COB or the adjudication controls?

We spent over $40 million to audit less than $1 million of questionable senator expenses, and the chamber itself lost incalculable credibility capital from the way it handled what should have been a simple administrative review of ambiguous expense guidelines. If this is anything like what our approach to national pharma will be, I say get someone who actually knows how to do this on that advisory panel, or forget it.

Monday, July 16 at 11:36 am | Reply

Vince Pellegrino:

Yes, there is no free lunch. However, overall, I do agree we are best off with a universal drug plan. There will be a cost, but there should also be savings to corporations and their employees that currently pay for drug plans. The insurance premiums for existing employer drug plans should be lessened as a result of a universal drug program. Perhaps a tax on both employers and individuals may be appropriate and would be partly offset by expected insurance premium savings.

Monday, July 16 at 12:07 pm | Reply

Cindy Cavanagh:

I believe that pharmaceutical companies are the real issue. They need to be regulated more and should not be able to charge such high prices for life saving medications. In the long run, when we as a country pay these ridiculous prices, we enable them to keep them so high. Bringing in a countrywide pharmacare program is not really going to help as they are still able to get away with this.

Monday, July 16 at 12:25 pm | Reply


The issue is a very small proportion of private plan members who are unable to afford their high cost medications because their private plans are unable to pool the risk properly. In those cases, if private insurers were regulated to be forced to pool across all plans across the country, suddenly the small plan who is hit by a 100,000 drug per year for their employee will be in a better place to help their employee access the medication that will save their life and keep them at work.

The other issue is the poor and low-income who are unable to pay for even their very cheap medications, even if they have public drug insurance because the deductibles are too high. Those are the same people who also struggle to pay for their food and rent. Is the solution to give them free drugs, or give them free rent and food instead? This warrants a different approach than changing the entire system for the very few who are struggling.

If we are trying to save governments money, that is one thing. Scrap the whole thing and go to bulk buying. But don’t pretend it is for the benefit of those who have no drug insurance.

If we are trying to fill in the gap and make sure no one suffers from having no drugs, well then let’s find a solution to that problem, as I have said above. But let’s not mix up the two (use patients having access to justify governments saving) because the solution in one case will not work in the other.

Tuesday, July 17 at 11:38 am | Reply

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