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Government achieves health savings

A new collaborative funding framework between the province and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association will reduce government health-care costs and make life more affordable for Albertans. 

The framework is a first of its kind in Canada, with the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association and the government working closely together to reach a fiscally responsible agreement that makes life more affordable for Albertans, respects pharmacists and protects the stability of the industry.

This agreement will also save $150 million over the next two years by slowing the growth of spending on government-sponsored drug programs.   

“This funding agreement reflects our work to reduce the rate of health spending, which has seen unsustainable increases under the previous government. I thank the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, one of many health-care partners who’ve come to the table, for working with us on an agreement that helps meet our budget targets. This funding framework will not only help us manage the province’s financial pressures responsibly, it will save Albertans money – in some cases, hundreds of dollars a year.”

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

Albertans will also save money because of the changes. More than 8,700 seniors will save over $100 a year – in some cases, an individual with significant prescription needs could save more than $500 a year.

“Through this process, the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association has worked towards an end that would recognize the value of pharmacists in advancing the health of Albertans while being cognizant of health-care expenditures. Factoring in the Alberta government’s significant fiscal challenges, we believe that we have achieved the best funding framework possible.”

Mark Elderkin, president, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association

Under the agreement, Alberta’s pharmacists will continue to have the broadest scope of practice in Canada.

The new framework is facilitated through the Alberta Blue Cross Pharmaceutical Services Provider Agreement that individual pharmacies sign with Alberta Blue Cross as the administrator of government programs. Government, the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association and Alberta Blue Cross will be working to implement the changes starting May 17, 2018.

“As the largest payer of prescription drugs in Alberta on behalf of our customers, including individuals, employer group benefit plan sponsors and government programs, Alberta Blue Cross processes over $1.6 billion in pharmacy claims annually. We have a keen interest in ensuring the sustainability of prescription drug plans for Albertans, and appreciate the government and pharmacy association’s shared commitment to ensuring the continued affordability of prescription drugs.”

Dianne Balon, vice-president, Government, Alberta Blue Cross

Quick facts

  • Dispensing fees will drop from $12.30 to $12.15.
  • A limit on the number of frequent dispensing fees will be introduced, similar to other provinces. Daily dispensing fees will be limited to three per day per patient and monthly dispensing fees will be limited to two per drug per 28 days. Opioid dependency treatments will be excluded.
  • In the second year of the agreement, a new risk-sharing component will be introduced, with the pharmacy association and Alberta Health working together to ensure budget targets are met.
  • Without the new agreement, funding for pharmacy compensation was forecast to rise by 12.3 per cent over the next two years. The new framework reduces that growth to 4.3 per cent, to accommodate population and volume growth.
  • For the next flu season, the fees pharmacists are paid to administer the flu vaccine will be reduced, bringing them more in line with those of other provinces.

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