July 12, 2019
WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont announced his party’s plan to reinstate and expand the Life-Saving Drugs Program that was scrapped last year by the Pallister Government.
In April, 2018, the PCs cancelled the “Special Drugs Program” — previously known as the “Life-Saving Drugs Program” which paid the total costs of necessary drugs for many Manitobans, including insulin and cystic fibrosis. As a result, many Manitobans faced increases in deductibles of hundreds of dollars a month and thousands of dollars a year for drugs they need to keep themselves alive.
“Manitoba Liberals believe that no Manitoban should have to choose between life-saving drugs and being able to pay their bills, rent, or being forced into bankruptcy,” said Lamont. “A new and expanded Life-Saving Drugs Program means that all Manitobans will be able to afford life-saving medications.”
In January, a Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) survey showed that 46% of Canadians and 56% of Manitobans are only $200 a month from insolvency. Another study in the CAMJ suggested that in 2016, nearly 1-million Canadians skimped on food or heat to afford their medications.
The Manitoba Liberals will cover drugs for cystic fibrosis, cancer medications, diabetes drugs, reduced costs for test strips, CPAP machines, and HIV medication. As part of the program, Manitoba Liberals will also remove the age restriction on insulin pumps for Manitobans with Type 1 diabetes.
Making life-saving drugs free of charge is equal to eliminating the deductible currently paid on those drugs, which varies according to income. Reinstating CPAP machines will cost $5-million, reducing the costs of diabetes test strips will be $1.8-million. Removing the current age restrictions would, according to pump manufacturer Medtronic, cost the province an estimated $2.4 million.
Lamont said that the investments would pay off by reducing health care costs elsewhere. HIV medication can prevent further cases, CPAP machines can prevent cardiac arrest and better control of diabetes can prevent heart attacks, strokes, blindness and amputations.
“The Manitoba Liberal plan is to help Manitobans get well and stay well, which will reduce health costs in the long run,” said Lamont. “We spend hundreds of millions on the complications of diabetes. If we can prevent those complications, we make Manitobans lives better and reduce overall costs at the same time.”