Opposition questions N.B. government about new drug plan

MONCTON – New Brunswick Health Minister Hugh Flemming is facing questions from the Opposition about the province’s new catastrophic drug plan, which was announced Tuesday.

The Liberal party has challenged the sustainability of the plan, which does not include help from the private sector.

Flemming said the province doesn’t have a way to collect premiums from businesses, which is something to work on in the coming years. For now, he said it wouldn’t be a problem.

“To our critics who want to know how we’re going to pay for it, I’m telling you — we’re paying for it now,” he said.

“This is an investment in the health care of New Brunswickers…We will have more New Brunswickers living healthier and happier lives, and it will take a tremendous burden off our hospitals.”

READ MORE: N.B. drug plan to create 30 jobs at Medavie Blue Cross

Twenty per cent of New Brunswickers — or 130,000 people — do not have a drug plan, and Flemming said the plan, which rolls out in May, will immediately help them. He said fewer will end up in the hospital because they can’t afford the drugs they need to stay healthy.

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Some people wonder whether the drugs people need will end up on the New Brunswick prescription drug formulary list, which are the only ones that will be covered by the plan.

On Tuesday, Global News spoke to Maryann Moore, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Her drug , which costs $600 a month, is not currently covered by the plan.

“When you get into all this, you see just how the bureaucracy is,” she said.

Flemming said new drugs are added to the list all the time, so while Moore’s drug is not on the list yet, it might be in the future.

“Health care is an evolving and changing issue. As drugs come and go, as drugs are brought onto the formulary, as there are different coverages, we’re going to grow this for the benefit of all New Brunswickers,” he said.

For people whose private plans don’t cover the cost of their drugs, Flemming said the law will require existing plans to match what’s offered by the province.

He added he expects to face more questions as the plan is rolled out.

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