How rival parties got their act together on pharmacare: Cohn

The biggest scandal of Canadian medicare is the absence of pharmacare, a half-century after universal health care came into our lives.Not just because saving lives is worth the money, but because a universal prescription plan saves so much money.Now, Ontario is finally taking the first step by covering young people up until age 25. Yes, it still leaves a gaping hole for everyone else, who must depend on workplace benefits until 65 (the age of eligibility for a seniors’ drug program).It’s a start. Yet instead of celebration, recrimination is on the rise.New Democrats believe the Liberal government stole their pharmacare idea, announced by party leader Andrea Horwath mere days before the spring budget. Liberals counter that someone might have leaked their budget plan, allowing the NDP to pre-empt them.Article Continued BelowNever mind the partisan skirmish. While it seems unseemly for politicians to clamour for credit (it’s in their DNA), isn’t competition for good ideas a good thing – especially if we all benefit, as we are bound to, from pharmacare?Horwath was first out of the gate this spring, announcing a plan to cover 125 of the most commonly prescribed drugs. Sources say she had first raised the idea in late 2014 with her chief of staff Michael Balagus, and his deputy, Dan O’Brien, putting it at the top of her priorities list.“Hey could you start looking into how a provincial pharmacare program would look? It’s something that both Andrea and Balagus would like to wrap our heads around,” O’Brien emailed a party researcher back then.