Surveying corporate media coverage of the education dispute, I noted a column by Vaughn Palmer that displays his particular usefulness when BC Liberals want information distributed.
Here is an excerpt from Palmer’s A balanced budget, but it’s not exactly ‘happy days’ in B.C. finance land:
B.C. Liberals were forced to rein in spending by several hundred million dollars as well. Much of that was achieved by slowing the rate of growth in the health ministry, including some $100 million reaped in the Pharmacare budget from the continuing shift to generic drugs.
Obviously, what he should have said is not that Liberals were “forced to rein in spending” but that they “chose to rein in spending.”
But, that’s a minor complaint. When he wrote government saved $100 million by PharmaCare shifting to generic drugs, The Explainer had not spoken to users of prescription medications, he was reading from Liberal talking points. In fact, PharmaCare saved money but they gained most of it by shifting costs onto users. This has been accelerated recently.
- PharmaCare sets a maximum price it will recognize for each drug and patients pay the extra. Often, PharmaCare prices are lower than actual prices in the marketplace.
- PharmaCare has a Low Cost Alternative (LCA) program and will accept only amounts established for the cheapest drug in a category. If doctors prefers to prescribe drugs different than the LCA, the patients pay extra.
- Under the Reference Drug Program, PharmaCare provides full coverage for only the most “cost effective” drugs in the category. Coverage for other drugs may be will be denied without special authority.
- The Limited Coverage program dictates that certain medications will not be covered unless health care providers apply for special authority. The list of drugs not covered has expanded. Special authorities are often declined and physicians may ask patients to pay fees for applications. This encourages patients to abandon claims.
These policies not only save the BC Government large amounts but they profit private insurers, such as Pacific Blue Cross, who apply me-too rules and follow the PharmaCare model. So, government and business saved money, but that came out of the pockets of patients.
I can understand government not wanting to admit the fact but they should not be helped by reporters amplifying government spin.