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

READ MORE: Groundbreaking agreement forms First Nations Health Authority

READ MORE: First Nations people in B.C. three times more likely to die of overdose

“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: DriveBC says highway re-opened after accident

Highway 22 closed for seven hours on Saturday

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Métis Flag flies in Trail on Louis Riel Day

Area students, officials and public attend flag raising at Trail City Hall

Early Trail borrowed a couple of names from the U.S.

Place Names: Connection between Trail and Butte, Montana

First Past the Post is the only option

Letter to the Editor by Dieter Bogs of Trail

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Most Read