Ontario announces prescription drug benefit changes to OHIP+

Children, youths covered by private plans will again bill insurers first
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/05/2018
Christine Elliott
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott speaks during a swearing-in ceremony at Queen's Park in Toronto, on June 29. Mark Blinch/Pool via REUTERS

TORONTO (CP) — Ontario's government will no longer offer free prescriptions to kids and young adults with private coverage, the province's new health minister announced Saturday.

In a news release issued a day after the Progressive Conservative government was sworn in, Christine Elliott said the move follows through on Premier Doug Ford's campaign promise to find cost-cutting measures that don't slash jobs.

“Premier Ford promised the people he would find efficiencies without compromising service or jobs, and we are delivering,” said Elliott.

Children and youth who are not covered by private benefits will continue to receive their eligible prescriptions for free, the news release said, while those covered by private plans will bill those insurers first and the government second.

The release does not specify when the new system comes into effect, but Elliott said she looks forward to “working with insurance groups to ensure a smooth transition to this updated system.”

The head of a group that represents life and health insurance companies in Canada said his organization is also looking forward to working with the province on the new rules.

“We'll be reaching out to the government early next week to start working with them on that,” said Stephen Frank, president and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

Frank said the association is pleased with the Tories' plan, saying it's a way to maintain coverage for everyone, but in a more fiscally responsible manner.

“We think it's a win-win for everyone,” he said.

The announcement comes a day after Elliott was sworn in as minister of health and long-term care as part of the new Progressive Conservative cabinet.

OHIP+, enacted by the previous Liberal government just last year, offered free prescription medication for Ontarians under the age of 25.

It covered the 4,400-plus drugs included in the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, which is used by seniors and those on social assistance.

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