The FNHA version of Pharmacare, called “Plan W,” will be slightly different than that of the rest of the province. Photo submitted Pexels

143,000 First Nations to switch to tailored B.C. Pharmacare plan

FNHA clients who need prescription medications will have to provide their status card and care card

Status First Nations people in B.C. will begin health coverage under a tailored version of provincial pharmacare system on Sunday, marking the first time a province takes over health care coverage for that group.

Since 1979, First Nations people in B.C. have been covered under Canada Health’s Non-Insured Health Benefits program, which provides coverage for prescription medications, dental and medical supplies.

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, president of the Sto:lo Tribal Council in Chilliwack, said bringing the healthcare plan under the First Nations Health Authority will allow coverage to be focused on what those in B.C. need.

“What we often find, is governments will often fight over who pays for what,” Kelly said. “What we do with this decision to take ourselves away from the national program, is there’s no longer a fight over who will pay for prescription drugs. Pharmacare will be the only payer.”

The new benefits plan will affect 143,000 health authority clients.

The FNHA version of Pharmacare, called “Plan W,” will be slightly different than that of the rest of the province.

Because many First Nations people don’t file income taxes, Kelly said, many don’t meet the proper requirements for Pharmacare.

“Most Indigenous folks are impoverished, barely getting by,” he said. “So, for us, income testing doesn’t work. The way it’s done for other British Columbians is by the filing of income tax returns. Many of our folks are so poor they don’t file income tax forms.”

FNHA clients who need prescription medications will instead have to provide their status card and care card and will receive their prescription medication for free, covered by Pharmacare.

The differences behind the scenes have been a long time coming, according to Kelly, who’s advocated for 30 years for a provincial-based plan.

In 2006, then-premier Gordon Campbell said all health services delivered by the province would be made available to all British Columbians. In 2011, the First Nations Health Authority was created, and began delivering services in 2013.

This new Pharmacare plan will be tweaked based on concerns and issues that may arise around access and implementation, Kelly said.

“The chiefs told us if you’re going to do this, then you do a better job,” Kelly said. “It’s not good enough to take over the work the government once did for us, you’ve got to do a better job.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: West Fraser to permanently reduce production in Quesnel, Fraser Lake

The move will affect 75 employees in Quesnel, 60 in Fraser Lake

Feedback sought on environmental impacts of New Gold’s proposed Blackwater Mine

Public is invited to comment in final round of consultation

Vanderhoof speed skater makes international debut

Alison Desmarais earned a bronze medal in her first short track speed skating World Cup

Column: the 4-H way of life

Local 4-H member Jacinta Meir on what being a member means to her

Local soccer player Sydney Kelly receives prestigious Premier’s Award

The 18-year-old trained with UNBC’s soccer team while in high school

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read