OTTAWA - An expert panel is calling for a universal, single-payer national pharmacare plan. Here's what it recommends:
— The federal government should work with provinces and territories to create a national pharmacare program that works like public health care, in that it is "universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable and public."
— National pharmacare should be delivered by provinces and territories, governed by federal legislation and supported by federal funding in line with "agreed-upon national standards."
— The federal government should work with the provincial and territorial governments to begin to implement national pharmacare as soon as possible, with a new financing agreement to be developed jointly by governments and with Ottawa paying the incremental costs.
— Federal, provincial and territorial governments should work together to create an arm's-length drug agency to oversee national pharmacare, with its first task to be creating a list of drugs to be covered by the plan
— The initial formulary should be chosen from a list of essential medicines covering most major conditions, representing half of prescriptions, to be made available through national pharmacare by Jan. 1, 2022.
— A strategy and plan for funding access to expensive drugs for rare diseases to be implemented by Jan. 1, 2022.
— Co-payments under the plan should be limited to $2 per prescription for essential medicines and $5 per prescription for all other drugs on the national formulary with an annual limit of $100 per household. It says those living with disabilities, people on social assistance and low-income seniors should be exempt from these payments.