Connect with us

Health

National pharmacare – might it be a pig in a poke?

Published

11 minute read

From the Macdonald Laurier Institute

By Nigel Rawson and John Adams for Inside Policy

No Canadian should have to choose between paying for medicines and paying for rent or food. National pharmacare has been proposed as a remedy to this situation.

“When will Canada have national pharmacare?” asks the author of a recent article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Better questions are: will Canadian pharmacare be the system many Canadians hope for? Or, might it turn out to be skimpy coverage akin to minimum wage laws?

In its 2024 budget document, the federal government proposed providing $1.5 billion over five years to support the launch of national pharmacare for “universal, single-payer coverage for a number of contraception and diabetes medications.” This has been hailed as a “big day for pharmacare” by some labour unions, patients and others, including the author of the BMJ article who said that national pharmacare should be expanded to cover all medication needs beginning with the most commonly-prescribed, clinically-important “essential medicines.”

In its budget, the government stated “coverage of contraceptives will mean that nine million women in Canada will have better access to contraception” and “improving access to diabetes medications will help improve the health of 3.7 million Canadians with diabetes.” Why not salute such affable, motherhood and apple pie, sentiments? The devil is in the details.

The plan does not cover new drugs for diabetes, such as Ozempic, Rybelsus, Wegovy, Mounjaro or Zepbound, all based on innovative GLP-1 agonists, where evidence is building for cardiovascular and weight loss benefits. This limited rollout seems based on cheap, older medicines, which can be less effective for some with diabetes.

The federal government has also consistently under-estimated the cost of national proposals such as pharmacare – not to mention other promises. In their 2019 election platform, the Liberals promised $6 billion for national pharmacare (the NDP promised $10 billion). Keen analysis shows that even these expansive amounts would be woefully inadequate to fund a full national pharmacare plan. This makes the $300 million a year actually proposed by the Liberals’ look like the skimpy window-dressing that it is.

National pharmacare, based on the most comprehensive existing public drug plan (Quebec’s), would cost much more. In 2017, using optimistic assumptions, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) estimated the cost for a national plan based on Quebec’s experience to be $19.3 billion a year. With more appropriate assumptions, the Canadian Health Policy Institute estimated $26.2 billion. In June 2019, the federal government’s own Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare put the cost at $40 billion, while a few months later, the tax consulting company RSM Canada projected $48.3 to $52.5 billion per year. Five years later, costs no doubt have soared.

Even with these staggering cost a program based on matching Quebec’s drug plan at the national level would fail to provide anywhere near the level of coverage already provided to the almost two-thirds of Canadians who have private drug insurance, including many in unionized jobs. Are they willing to sacrifice their superior coverage, especially of innovative brand-name medicines, for a program covering only “essential medicines”? Put another way, are Canadians and their unions prepared to settle for the equivalent of a minimum wage or minimum benefits?

The PBO has estimated the cost of coverage of a range of contraceptives and diabetes medicines as $1.9 billion over five years, which is more than the $1.5 billion provided in the budget. However, this figure is based on an assumption that the new program would only cover Canadians who currently do not have public or private drug plan insurance, those who currently do not fill their prescriptions due to cost related reasons, and the out-of-pocket part of prescription costs for Canadians who have public or private drug plan coverage. This is major guesswork because existing public and private drug plans may see the new federal program as an opportunity to reduce their costs by requiring their beneficiaries to use the new program. If this occurs, the national pharmacare costs to the federal government, even for the limited role out of diabetes and contraceptives, would soar to an estimated $5.7 billion, according to the PBO.

Our governments are not known for accurate estimates of the costs of new programs. One has only to remember the Phoenix pay system and the ArriveCAN costs. In 2017, the Government of Ontario estimated $465 million per year to extend drug coverage to every resident under the age of 25 years. What happened? Introduced in 2018, prescriptions rose by 290% and drug expenditure increased to $839 million – almost double the guesstimate. In 2019, the provincial government back peddled and modified the program to cover only people not already insured by a private plan.

Although we believe governments should facilitate access to necessary medicines for Canadians who cannot afford their medicines, this does not require national pharmacare and a growing bureaucracy. Exempting lower-income Canadians from copayments and premiums required by provincial programs, as British Columbia has done, and removing the requirement to pay for all drugs up to a deductible would allow these Canadians access sooner, more simply, and more effectively.

Moreover, it isn’t just lower-income Canadians who want help with unmet medicine needs. Canadians who need access to drugs for diseases that are difficult to treat and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year also require assistance. Few Canadians whether they have low, medium or high incomes can afford these prices without government or private insurance. Private insurers often refuse to cover these drugs.

The Liberals provided a separate $1.5 billion over three years for drugs for rare disorders, but no province or territory has signed a bilateral agreement with the federal government for these drugs and no patient has received benefit through this program. Even if they did, the $500 million per year would not go far towards the actual costs. There is at least a zero missing in the federal contribution, as the projected cost of public spending on rare disease medicines by 2025 is more than threefold what Ottawa has budgeted.

Expensive drugs for cancer and rare disorders are just as essential as basic medicines for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, birth control, and many other common conditions. If a costly medicine will allow a person with a life-shortening disease to live longer or one with a disorder that will be severely disabling left untreated to have an improved quality of life and be a productive taxpayer, it too should be regarded as essential.

The Liberals and NDP are working to stampede the bill to introduce the pharmacare program (Bill C-64) through the legislative process. This includes inviting witnesses over the first long weekend of summer, when many Canadians are away, to appear before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Health three days later.

Too much is unknown about what will be covered (will newer drugs be covered or only older, cheaper medicines?), who will be eligible for coverage (all appropriate Canadians regardless of existing coverage or only those with no present coverage?), and what the real cost will be, including whether a new program focusing on older, cheaper drugs will deter drug developers from launching novel medicines for unmet needs in Canada.

This Bill as it stands is such a power grab that, if passed, the federal Health Minister never has to come back to Parliament for review, oversight or another tranche of legal authority, it would empower the Cabinet to make rules and regulations without parliamentary scrutiny.

A lot is at stake for Canadians, especially for patients and their doctors. Prescription medicines are of critical importance to treating many diseases. National pharmacare must not only allow low-income residents to access purported “essential medicines” but also ensure that patients who need specialized drugs, especially higher-cost innovative cell and genetic therapies that may be the only effective treatment for their disorder, are not ignored. Canadians should be careful what they wish for. They may receive less than they anticipate, and, in fact, many Canadians may be worse off despite the increase in public spending. Time to look under the hood and kick the tires.

Nigel Rawson is a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

John Adams is co-founder and CEO of Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders Inc., a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and volunteer board chair of Best Medicines Coalition.

Todayville is a digital media and technology company. We profile unique stories and events in our community. Register and promote your community event for free.

Follow Author

Health

UK report debunks claim that halting puberty blockers increases suicide in gender-confused youth

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Jonathon Van Maren

For more than a decade, the transgender movement has used a potent lie to blackmail desperate parents and feckless politicians into accepting their agenda: that if gender-confused children are not provided with sex changes – “gender-affirming care” – they will be at a high risk for suicide. Parent after parent heard the simple, deceitful question, posed to them by trans activist medical professionals: “Would you rather have a dead daughter, or a live son?” 

Yet another review highlights that this claim is completely baseless. As the BBC reported on July 20: “There is no evidence of a large rise in suicides in young patients attending a gender identity clinic in London, an independent review has found.” 

The report, titled “Review of suicides and gender dysphoria at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust: independent report,” was published by the U.K. government on July 19. Professor Louis Appleby was tasked by Health Secretary Wes Streeting to examine the evidence after LGBT activists claimed that suicide rates were spiking due to restrictions on puberty blockers, which were first implemented in 2020. The review concluded: 

  1. The data do not support the claim that there has been a large rise in suicide in young gender dysphoria patients at the Tavistock. 
  1. The way that this issue has been discussed on social media has been insensitive, distressing and dangerous, and goes against guidance on safe reporting of suicide. 
  1. The claims that have been placed in the public domain do not meet basic standards for statistical evidence. 
  1. There is a need to move away from the perception that puberty-blocking drugs are the main marker of non-judgemental acceptance in this area of health care. 
  2. We need to ensure high quality data in which everyone has confidence, as the basis of improved safety for this at risk group of young people. 

This review is devastating to virtually every single claim trans activists have been making – and Appleby even notes, in point two of his summary, that trans activists themselves are posing a real danger to gender-confused children with their irresponsible lies about suicidality. Suicide, as we have long known, is a social contagion – and trans activists are explicitly encouraging gender-confused children to claim suicidal ideation in order to acquire puberty blockers.  

As the BBC reported: “The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was vital that public discussion around the issue was handled responsibly.” It is difficult to read that statement as anything but a direct rebuke of trans activists. Appleby, a professor of psychiatry and experienced suicide researcher from the University of Manchester, warned that trans activist rhetoric could actually lead to adolescents copycatting that behavior. “One risk is that young people and their families will be terrified by predictions of suicide as inevitable without puberty blockers – some of the responses on social media show this,” he said. As the BBC noted: 

In response to [trans activist] claims, the new health secretary launched an independent review led by Prof Appleby which analysed data from NHS England on suicides of patients at the Tavistock clinic, based on an audit at the trust.

Covering the period between 2018-19 and 2023-24, he found there were 12 suicides – five in the three years leading up to 2020-21 and seven in the three years afterwards.

‘This is essentially no difference,’ Prof Appleby says in his report, ‘taking account of expected fluctuations in small numbers, and would not reach statistical significance.’

He adds: ‘In the under 18s specifically, there were 3 suicides before and 3 after 2020-21.’

The Good Law Project, run by executive director Jo Maugham, is currently challenging the puberty blocker ban – and predictably, Maugham expressed his disagreement with the review, saying that he had “profound difficulties” with it. It likely will make little difference. In the U.K., the transgender narrative is in tatters – and leaders still parroting these debunked lines should take note. 

Featured Image

Jonathon’s writings have been translated into more than six languages and in addition to LifeSiteNews, has been published in the National PostNational ReviewFirst Things, The Federalist, The American Conservative, The Stream, the Jewish Independent, the Hamilton SpectatorReformed Perspective Magazine, and LifeNews, among others. He is a contributing editor to The European Conservative.

His insights have been featured on CTV, Global News, and the CBC, as well as over twenty radio stations. He regularly speaks on a variety of social issues at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

He is the author of The Culture WarSeeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of AbortionPatriots: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Pro-Life MovementPrairie Lion: The Life and Times of Ted Byfield, and co-author of A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide with Blaise Alleyne.

Jonathon serves as the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Continue Reading

Brownstone Institute

The Pandemic Excuse for a Corporatist Coup

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

By Jeffrey A. Tucker

We’ve just come across a document hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, posted March 2023, but written in 2007, that amounts to a full-blown corporatist imposition on the US, abolishing anything remotely resembling the Bill of Rights and Constitutional law. It is right there in plain sight for anyone curious enough to dig.

There is nothing in it that you haven’t already experienced with lockdowns. What makes it interesting are the participants in the forging of the plan, which is pretty much the whole of corporate America as it stood in 2007. It was a George W. Bush initiative. The conclusions are startling.

“Quarantine is a legally enforceable declaration that a government body may institute over individuals potentially exposed to a disease, but who are not symptomatic. If enacted, Federal quarantine laws will be coordinated between CDC and State and local public health officials, and, if necessary, law enforcement personnel…The government may also enact travel restrictions to limit the movement of people and products between geographic areas in an effort to limit disease transmission and spread. Authorities are currently reviewing possible plans to curtail international travel upon a pandemic’s emergence overseas.

“Limiting public assembly opportunities also helps limit the spread of disease. Concert halls, movie theaters, sports arenas, shopping malls, and other large public gathering places might close indefinitely during a pandemic—whether because of voluntary closures or government-imposed closures. Similarly, officials may close schools and non-essential businesses during pandemic waves in an effort to significantly slow disease transmission rates. These strategies aim to prevent the close interaction of individuals, the primary conduit of spreading the influenza virus. Even taking steps such as limiting person-to-person interactions within a distance of three feet or avoiding instances of casual close contact, such as shaking hands, will help limit disease spread.”

There we have it: the pandemic plans. They once seemed abstract. In 2020, they became very real. Your rights were deleted. No more freedom even to have house guests. In those days, the rule was to enforce only three feet of distance rather than six feet of distance, neither of which had any basis in science. Indeed, the actual scientific literature even at that time recommended against any physical interventions designed to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. They were known not to work. The entire profession of public health accepted that.

Therefore, for many years before lockdowns wrecked economic functioning, there had been two parallel tracks in operation, one intellectual/academic and one imposed by state/corporate managers. They had nothing to do with each other. This situation persisted for the better part of 15 years. Suddenly in 2020, there was a reckoning, and the state/corporate managers won it. Seemingly out of nowhere, liberty as we have long known it was gone.

Back in 2005, I first came across a Bush administration scheme, an early draft of the above, that would have ended freedom as we know it. It was a scheme for combating the bird flu, which officials back then imagined would involve universal quarantines, business and event closures, travel restrictions, and more.

wrote: “Even if the flu does come, and taxpayers have coughed up, the government will surely have a ball imposing travel restrictions, shutting down schools and businesses, quarantining cities, and banning public gatherings…It is a serious matter when the government purports to plan to abolish all liberty and nationalize all economic life and put every business under the control of the military, especially in the name of a bug that seems largely restricted to the bird population. Perhaps we should pay more attention. Perhaps such plans for the total state ought to even ruffle our feathers a bit.”

For years I wrote about this topic, trying to get others interested. It was all there in black and white. At the drop of a hat, under the guise of a pandemic that only state managers can declare, real or drummed up, freedom itself could be abolished. These plans were never legislated, debated, or publicly discussed. They were simply posted as the result of various consultations with experts, who worked out their totalitarian fantasies as if scripting a Hollywood film.

The 2007 blueprint is more explicit than anything I’ve seen. It comes from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which “includes executive leaders from the private sector and state/local government who advise the White House on how to reduce physical and cyber risks and improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure sectors. The NIAC is administered on behalf of the President in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act under the authority of the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security.”

And who sat on this committee in 2007 that decided that governments “may close schools and non-essential businesses”? Let us see.

  • Mr. Edmund G. Archuleta, General Manager, El Paso Water Utilities
  • Mr. Alfred R. Berkeley III, Chairman and CEO, Pipeline Trading Group, LLC, and former President and Vice Chairman of NASDAQ
  • Chief Rebecca F. Denlinger, Fire Chief, Cobb County (Ga.) Fire and Emergency Services
  • Chief Gilbert G. Gallegos, Police Chief (ret.), City of Albuquerque, N.M. Police Department
  • Ms. Martha H. Marsh, President and CEO, Stanford Hospital and Clinics
  • Mr. James B. Nicholson, President and CEO, PVS Chemical, Inc.
  • Mr. Erle A. Nye, Chairman Emeritus, TXU Corp., NIAC Chairman
  • Mr. Bruce A. Rohde, Chairman and CEO Emeritus, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Mr. John W. Thompson, Chairman and CEO, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Brent Baglien, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Mr. David Barron, Bell South
  • Mr. Dan Bart, TIA
  • Mr. Scott Blanchette, Healthways
  • Ms. Donna Burns, Georgia Emergency Management Agency
  • Mr. Rob Clyde, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Scott Culp, Microsoft
  • Mr. Clay Detlefsen, International Dairy Foods Association
  • Mr. Dave Engaldo, The Options Clearing Corporation
  • Ms. Courtenay Enright, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Gary Gardner, American Gas Association
  • Mr. Bob Garfield, American Frozen Foods Institute
  • Ms. Joan Gehrke, PVS Chemical, Inc.
  • Ms. Sarah Gordon, Symantec
  • Mr. Mike Hickey, Verizon
  • Mr. Ron Hicks, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Mr. George Hender, The Options Clearing Corporation
  • Mr. James Hunter, City of Albuquerque, NM Emergency Management
  • Mr. Stan Johnson, North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC)
  • Mr. David Jones, El Paso Corporation
  • Inspector Jay Kopstein, Operations Division, New York City Police Department (NYPD)
  • Ms. Tiffany Jones, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Bruce Larson, American Water
  • Mr. Charlie Lathram, Business Executives for National Security (BENS)/BellSouth
  • Mr. Turner Madden, Madden & Patton
  • Chief Mary Beth Michos, Prince William County (Va.) Fire and Rescue
  • Mr. Bill Muston, TXU Corp.
  • Mr. Vijay Nilekani, Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Mr. Phil Reitinger, Microsoft
  • Mr. Rob Rolfsen, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Mr. Tim Roxey, Constellation
  • Ms. Charyl Sarber, Symantec
  • Mr. Lyman Shaffer, Pacific Gas and Electric,
  • Ms. Diane VanDeHei, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Ms. Susan Vismor, Mellon Financial Corporation
  • Mr. Ken Watson, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Mr. Greg Wells, Southwest Airlines
  • Mr. Gino Zucca, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Resources
  • Dr. Bruce Gellin, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Dr. Mary Mazanec
  • Dr. Stuart Nightingale, CDC
  • Ms. Julie Schafer
  • Dr. Ben Schwartz, CDC
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Resources
  • Mr. James Caverly, Director, Infrastructure Partnerships Division
  • Ms. Nancy Wong, NIAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
  • Ms. Jenny Menna, NIAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
  • Dr. Til Jolly
  • Mr. Jon MacLaren
  • Ms. Laverne Madison
  • Ms. Kathie McCracken
  • Mr. Bucky Owens
  • Mr. Dale Brown, Contractor
  • Mr. John Dragseth, IP attorney, Contractor
  • Mr. Jeff Green, Contractor
  • Mr. Tim McCabe, Contractor
  • Mr. William B. Anderson, ITS America
  • Mr. Michael Arceneaux, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Mr. Chad Callaghan, Marriott Corporation
  • Mr. Ted Cromwell, American Chemistry Council (ACC)
  • Ms. Jeanne Dumas, American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Ms. Joan Harris, US Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary
  • Mr. Greg Hull, American Public Transportation Association
  • Mr. Joe LaRocca, National Retail Federation
  • Mr. Jack McKlveen, United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Ms. Beth Montgomery, Wal-Mart
  • Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, Georgia Office of EMS/Trauma/EP
  • Mr. Roger Platt, The Real Estate Roundtable
  • Mr. Martin Rojas, American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Mr. Timothy Sargent, Senior Chief, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Finance Canada

In other words, big everything: food, energy, retail, computers, water, and you name it. It’s a corporatist dream team.

Consider ConAgra itself. What is that? It is Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher’s, Reddi-Wip, Slim Jim, Hunt’s Peter Pan Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, Marie Callender’s, P.F. Chang’s, Ranch Style Beans, Ro*Tel, Wolf Brand Chili, Angie’s, Duke’s, Gardein, Frontera, Bertolli, among many other seemingly independent brands that are all actually one company.

Now, ask yourself: why might all these companies favor a plan for lockdowns? Why might WalMart, for example? It stands to reason. Lockdowns are a massive interference with competitive capitalism. They provide the best possible subsidy to big business while shutting down independent small businesses and putting them at a huge disadvantage once the opening up happens.

In other words, it is an industrial racket, very much akin to interwar-style fascism, a corporatist combination of big business and big government. Throw pharma into the mix and you see exactly what came to pass in 2020, which amounted to the largest transfer of wealth from small and medium-sized business plus the middle class to wealthy industrialists in the history of humanity.

The document is open even about managing information flows: “The public and private sectors should align their communications, exercises, investments, and support activities absolutely with both the plan and priorities during a pandemic influenza event. Continue data gathering, analysis, reporting, and open review.”

There is nothing in any of this that fits with any Western tradition of law and liberty. Nothing. It was never approved by any democratic means. It was never part of any political campaign. It has never been the subject of any serious media examination. No think tank has ever pushed back on such plans in any systematic way.

The last serious attempt to debunk this whole apparatus was from D.H. Henderson in 2006. His two co-authors on that paper eventually came around to going along with lockdowns of 2020. Henderson died in 2016. One of the co-authors of the original article told me that if Dr. Henderson had been around, instead of Dr. Fauci, the lockdowns would never have taken place.

Here we are four years following the deployment of this lockdown machinery, and we are witness to what it destroys. It would be nice to say that the entire apparatus and theory behind it have been fully discredited.

But that is not correct. All the plans are still in place. There have been no changes in federal law. Not one effort has been made to dismantle the corporatist/biosecurity planning state that made all this possible. Every bit of it is in place for the next go-around.

Much of the authority for this whole coup traces to the Public Health Services Act of 1944, which was passed in wartime. For the first time in US history, it gave the federal government the power to quarantine. Even when the Biden administration was looking for some basis to justify its transportation mask mandate, it fell back to this one piece of legislation.

If anyone really wants to get to the root of this problem, there are decisive steps that need to be taken. The indemnification of pharma from liability for harm needs to be repealed. The court precedent of forced shots in Jacobson needs to be overthrown. But even more fundamentally, the quarantine power itself has to go, and that means the full repeal of the Public Health Services Act of 1944. That is the root of the problem. Freedom will not be safe until it is uprooted.

As it stands right now, everything that unfolded in 2020 and 2021 can happen again. Indeed, the plans are in place for exactly that.

Author

Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

Continue Reading

Trending

X