Blog | January 17, 2014

Matt Dykstra, QMI AgencyEDMONTON&mash;Several seniors attempting an overnight sit-in at Health Minister Fred Horne’s Edmonton office were ushered out by police late Thursday.The various seniors groups -- organized by Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors Task Force -- staged the sit-in at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday inside Horne’s office to demand answers on the government’s delayed Pharmacare drug program.The government says a move from the current universal drug plan to a single, income-based drug program will save $180 million, but the seniors groups say that cost will just be transferred.“Not to seniors in general, but to those who have a high need for prescription medication -- the sick, frail and chronically ill,” said Noel Somerville, chair of the task force.“If instituted, this plan will become a form of surtax on people simply because they are sick, and we don’t know anyone who thinks that is acceptable public policy.”More than a dozen seniors sat in Horne’s office all-day Thursday.The seniors were promised a meeting with Horne, but refused to leave until they were granted a meeting with Premier Alison Redford, who is on a trade mission in India.By 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, city police officers arrived and removed the sleepy seniors.The seniors were holding a second press conference at Horne’s office at 10 a.m. Friday.Seniors currently pay 30% of their prescriptions to a maximum of $25, as long as the medication is on the Alberta Drug Benefit List.Under the proposed Phramacare plan, higher-earning seniors would pay more for prescriptions and all generic drug prices will be reduced from 35% to 18% of brand name prices.The Pharmacare drug program was originally announced in the 2013 budget and set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, but was delayed last October by Horne until further consultations could be scheduled with pharmacists, insurance companies and seniors groups.Read the article online at the Sun News Network.