November 2, 2010 - Minister of Health and Social Services, Sandy Lee, provided further details on the process the GNWT is taking to implement the recommendations from the Supplementary Health Benefits Joint Working Group surrounding updates to the existing Extended Health Benefits program.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide further details on the process we are taking to implement the recommendations from the Supplementary Health Benefits Joint Working Group surrounding updates to the existing Extended Health Benefits program.
The recommendations that were made by the Joint Working Group require varying levels of additional research and planning before implementation, so we plan to move forward as quickly as we can while ensuring we have done our homework.
We will immediately begin working with the Department of Human Resources, and later on, other employers in the NWT, to ensure third party insurance coverage is maximized both by current employees and retirees.
We will also initiate contact in November with existing program clients who have been grandfathered additional benefits from 2004, to inform them that this grandfathering is being discontinued effective April 1, 2011. This will allow time for them to work with their health professional to ensure we have a seamless transition to generic medication.
Health and Social Services will begin work to reform the prescription drug system to provide better access to lower-cost generic drugs for patients, as part of a NWT Pharmaceutical Strategy. We will begin work in December with pharmacists, doctors, and nurse practitioners regarding this reform, and continue to keep them informed. We expect to announce the new program this Spring.
Revisions to the Extended Benefits Policy to accomplish the Joint Working Groups recommendations surrounding third party insurance, extended residency requirements and the implementation plan for parity with NIHB will also be introduced in the Spring.
During the same time period, we will do a thorough analysis of the costs of enrolling those who are excluded from parts of the extended benefits program, also known as “working poor”. It is expected that the savings from the changes we make to the program that I’ve mentioned would allow for the inclusion of this group of our residents who need the assistance of the government.
We will also plan for a new appeals process for Extended Health Benefits that will be implemented by March 1, 2011. This will allow time for those affected by the change in their status to appeal decisions based on medical necessity.
This will be a busy time for the Department of Health and Social Services, as we continue to finalize details and policy. I will continue to work with the Members of the Standing Committee on Social Programs and keep the public informed of our progress.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302