Nova Scotia reviewing controversial changes to seniors’ pharmacare

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Nova Scotia to review Seniors Pharmacare Program
WATCH ABOVE: The Nova Scotia Government says it will review its new Seniors' Pharmacare Program after a four-hour meeting with the province’s senior advisory group. Global’s Legislative Reporter Marieke Walsh reports – Feb 3, 2016

Pressure from seniors’ advocacy groups is forcing the Nova Scotia government to review changes to the seniors’ pharmacare program that were announced less than three weeks ago.

Nine different advocacy groups are represented on the province’s Seniors’ Advisory Council, which met with government officials for four hours Wednesday morning to explain the problems the groups see with the pharmacare program and suggest changes.

READ MORE: 2,000 more seniors will pay a premium under new N.S. pharmacare program

The organization representing retired teachers is calling on the province to reverse the changes entirely and CARP Nova Scotia says it at least wants the implementation of the changes slowed down significantly. Following the meeting CARP N.S. Chair Bill VanGorder said he’s confident the government will make at least some changes.

“We’re confident, that since they said that our concerns were legitimate, that there will be some changes to the program,” he said. “And we’re anxious to see what those are.”

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The advisory council takes issue with many elements of the new seniors’ pharmacare program which changes how much seniors will pay for premiums based on their incomes — some will see their premium almost triple to $1,200 while others will see their premiums go down.

The key concerns for the group of nine are the higher costs for seniors who are couples, the new $1,200 upper limit for premiums, and the loss of the automatic premium exemption for low-income seniors who get the guaranteed income supplement.

Despite the optimism from CARP Nova Scotia, the government isn’t committing to making any changes.

“We’re going to look at the recommendations they’ve made and how it impacts the program and get back to the Group of IX so that we can make a decision and find a way forward in a timely manner,” said Deputy Seniors Minister Simon d’Entremont.

There’s no exact date set for when the government will make a decision.

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