October 29, 2010 - The Minister of Health and Social Service highlighted some of the recommendations from the Report of the Supplementary Health Benefits Joint Working Group.
Mr. Speaker, decisions surrounding Health care, particularly who pays and for what, are some of the most contentious and sensitive that a government faces. We have seen this over the past few years as we have attempted to resolve the inconsistencies between uninsured supplementary health benefits programs in the NWT.
Later today, I will be tabling the Report of the Supplementary Health Benefits Joint Working Group. The Report has been developed using our Legislative Assembly’s consensus process, in a partnership of Executive Council and the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning.
I want to recognize and thank the Joint Working Group members who took on the challenge of addressing this complex area: my co-chair MLA Groenewegen, MLA Yakeleya, MLA Bisaro and Cabinet colleagues the Hon. Michael Miltenberger, and the Hon. Michael McLeod.
On October 22, 2010 I received a letter from the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning communicating the results of their review of the Working Group report. I have shared this response with Executive Council, and again, in the spirit of consensus government, we have agreed to move forward with changes consistent with the principles agreed to by the Joint Working Group, and to implement these changes during the life of this Government.
Based on these principles, Mr. Speaker, Executive Council will rescind the 2007 Policy on Supplementary Health Benefits. The Department of Health and Social Services will concentrate its efforts on the modernization of our existing policy framework. We will develop proposals for amendments to the Extended Health Benefits and Métis Health Benefits programs to require the use of third party insurance as the first option, and to ensure parity with the Federal Non-Insured Health Benefits program.
We will also develop a pharmaceutical strategy to include generic drugs, drug pricing and efficiencies and cost containment of pharmaceuticals, procurement, distribution and access.
Also consistent with the recommendations of the Joint Working Group, the 2004 grandfathering of Extended Health Benefits will be eliminated.
I will make a further announcement next week regarding the implementation of these changes.
Mr. Speaker, as we know, the NWT is not alone in facing the challenge of sustaining its health care system in an environment of escalating costs and other critical pressures. Difficult decisions about what we can afford, and what we cannot, will continue to challenge this House in the months and years ahead.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302