The Alberta government will not discontinue health care coverage for insulin pumps, Health Minister Jason Copping announced on Thursday.
Copping said the government is dropping its proposed changes to insulin pump benefits, which would remove provincial coverage for a convenient and unobtrusive method to administer the life-saving drug.
There will be no changes to the current Insulin Pump Therapy Program and Albertans will now have access to newer pump models, according to a statement on Thursday.
Copping said the decision was made after consulting with advocates, diabetes organizations and insulin pump users.
It also comes after the Alberta government faced criticism after announcing the changes earlier this year. Individuals and organizations raised concerns about increased costs and the lack of details around the changes.
“I recognize that we did not approach this in the best way possible, and I have subsequently stopped this change,” Copping said during a news conference on Thursday.
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“I’ve heard your message loud and clear, that’s why I decided to cancel the proposed changes to the insulin pump benefits.”
Copping also announced he will be creating a diabetes working group to identify gaps in care and develop a sustainable system for Albertans.
The group will review the province’s entire diabetes care pathway including diagnosis, treatment and the roles of primary care physicians. Recommendations will be shared with the health minister before the fall of next year, Copping said.
The working group will include representatives from diabetes organizations, health professionals, researchers and health insurers.
“To be clear, the goal of the working group is not to find ways to save money. It’s about providing better care, improving better health outcomes and ensuring a sustainable system for the long term,” Copping said.
More details about the working group will come in September.
Alberta NDP health critic David Shepherd applauded the move and said it is a victory for thousands of Albertans who advocated against the changes.
“Today is a great day for all Albertans who use the Insulin Pump Therapy Program and a victory for the thousands of Albertans and many organizations who spoke out against the UCP’s short-sighted plans,” Shepherd said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“With the rising cost of living, there could not be a worse time to cancel this program. Yet this is what the UCP originally intended.”