CARP criticizes Bill C-64's limited coverage for seniors

CARP urges better focus and clarity in Bill C-64 to ensure seniors receive the medications they need

CARP criticizes Bill C-64's limited coverage for seniors

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) supports universal drug coverage for seniors. 

However, as the largest seniors and older Canadians advocacy group in Canada, they have voiced concerns that Bill C-64 is not designed to cover the effective and world-class care they claim is needed by many of their 225,000 members. This includes the care needed by their families in 2024.  

They also worry that this approach will leave others, currently funded by workplace plans, behind.   

In a statement about the bill CARP says they believe every Canadian should have access to the medications they need when they need them most. Bill C-64 focuses on providing universal, single-payer drug coverage for diabetes medications, devices, and supplies.  

CARP applauded the selection of diabetes as one of the two initial conditions for coverage under Bill C-64, as diabetes management is key to a more effective, well-managed healthcare system.  

However, they note that the current announced coverage uses federal funds to cover people who already have coverage for these medications through their workplace. This approach does not cover the range of medications and supports required by most seniors with diabetes.   

CARP’s concerns with the Bill C-64 legislation are as follows:   

This legislation is currently unclear about the ability of workplace benefit plans to continue to cover many necessary diabetes medications both on and off the proposed list.   

CARP claims that there is a lack of clarity around devices, supplies, and related coverage. Canada is already behind on funding the most innovative drugs and equipment, and they want assurances that older Canadians will not be left further behind in terms of innovation and care.   

Under the new system, it is unknown if some seniors and older Canadians will have less coverage under the new pharmacare program than on their existing workplace benefits plan.   

They do not believe any federal funds should be spent on people who already have coverage. Twenty-seven million Canadians already have coverage from a workplace benefits plan.  

In 2022, Canada’s Life and Health Insurers paid out $14.3bn for drugs, which accounts for over 35 per cent of prescription drug spending in Canada.   

The 2024 federal budget allotted $1.5bn over five years to the pharmacare program for diabetes and contraceptives for all Canadians. They advocate for using these funds wisely for those who do not have coverage today and need it most and finding ways to improve the quality of care through innovation.   

Considering the classes of drugs the federal government is proposing to cover, diabetes drugs, devices, supplies, and contraceptives, insurers covered $2.2bn in related costs for 3.8 million Canadians last year (IQVIA 2024).  

CARP says this amount is far more than the $1.5bn the federal government has pledged for pharmacare over five years and will not improve access to the newest, most efficient medications on the market.   

CARP argues that Bill C-64 should focus on providing more to those who need care and offer a greater scope of support and service to those who need it most while protecting the existing coverage of over 27 million Canadians.   

CARP believe it is critical that these first steps towards national pharmacare get it right. CARP urges the use of federal investments in pharmacare for those who need it most, when they need it most, with a program designed for success not just for these initial diabetes medications but for all medications covered in the future development of the program.   

The statement by CARP argues that the county’s healthcare system requires an efficient use of resources and a commitment to innovation that ensures seniors and older Canadians always have access to the newest, best drugs at the best price when they need them most.