Alberta drops proposed changes to insulin pump program

Health Minister Jason Copping announced Thursday morning that the province will not move forward with proposed changes to the insulin pump program.

“I have decided to rescind the proposed shift to changes from the insulin pump therapy program to government-sponsored benefits,” he said Thursday. “To be clear, there will be no changes to the current schedule.”

The government has faced criticism from individuals and organizations after announcing the changes in May.

“I recognize that we did not address this in the best way possible, and I have subsequently halted this change. I am also committed to consulting with Albertans who use insulin pumps to hear their concerns and determine the best way forward,” he said.

Copping also announced that new push-ups would be added to the program.

Currently, Albertans taking advantage of the program have access to the following pumps:

  • The Omnipod Insulin Management System made by Insulet Canada
  • The MiniMed 630G insulin pump system manufactured by Medtronic Canada

The following pumps will be added to the program as soon as possible:

  • The Minimed 670G insulin pump system and the Minimed 770G insulin pump system manufactured by Medtronic Canada
  • The YpsoPump insulin pump manufactured by Ypsomed Canada Inc.
  • The t:slim X2 insulin pump with Basal IQ technology and the t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control IQ technology manufactured by Tandem Diabetes Care Canada, Inc.


More information can be found on the government website.

PREVIOUSLY PROPOSED CHANGES

If the changes had taken place, anyone who does not qualify for low-income status or who does not have private employer insurance would have had to purchase coverage from Blue Cross starting in August.

The pumps cost around $7,000 and need to be replaced every five years. Plus, other supplies can cost up to $900 per month.

Copping said when the changes were announced it was done to keep the program more sustainable for low-income Albertans.

“This change will allow us to cover more expensive insulin pumps, so we expect it will save about $9 million,” he said May 3, because fewer pumps overall will be purchased by the government.

Diabetes Canada sent a letter to Copping, requesting a meeting to discuss the changes.

“Diabetes Canada is extremely concerned about the negative impact this decision will have on the health of Albertans enrolled in IPTP and the additional costs they will be forced to incur,” reads the letter, written by Russell Williams. , senior vice-president of Diabetes Canada.

“We’ve heard from Albertans living with type 1 diabetes that their private plans don’t routinely cover insulin pumps, or that their plans are capped at an annual maximum, further increasing diabetes management costs. It can also lead to the unintended consequences of increased medical interventions in the public health system. »

A week after the announcement, Copping said that changes to the program would be put on hold, pending further public consultation.

LOBBYING ALLEGATIONS

On June 27, NDP health critic David Shepherd revealed that lobbyists had registered to meet with provincial officials seven months before the program’s eligibility changes were announced.

The NDP said Pathway Advocacy Services, on behalf of Tandem Diabetes Care Canada Inc., filed documents in September 2021 to lobby Alberta Health Services, Alberta Health, the Premier’s Office, members from the finance and treasury department and deputies about insulin pumps and other “specialists”. medicines” until December 2021.

The group was looking for one or more meetings, “informal communications”, phone calls, electronic and paper “written communications”, and other “basic communications”.

“If the government has time to meet with lobbyists who want to increase sales of their clients’ technology, the government has time to meet with people with diabetes,” Shepherd said. “It is episodes like this that underscore that Albertans cannot trust UCP with their health care.”

Copping’s publicist Steve Buick hit back, telling CTV News Edmonton that the meetings the NDP mentioned “had nothing to do with the proposed changes to the insulin pump program.”

“It was part of the prescribed process for Alberta to meet with industry representatives as the lead province in negotiating pricing agreements for insulin pumps and related supplies, through the ‘Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (CPA),’ Buick said.

Buick said lobby meetings that are part of the PCPA process are not allowed to focus on program design changes, only pricing discussions.

“The proposed change (to IPTP) remains pending,” Buick said. “The intention from the start was to move to a new funding model, without taking a pump away from anyone.

“We are sorry to have announced the general policy direction before doing the detailed work to see how to make the transition without leaving anyone behind,” he added.


With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Sean Amato, Adam Lachacz and Chelan Skulski.

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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