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Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

 

 

 

Cuts to Test Strip Coverage for Diabetics Will‎ Save Money at the Expense of People’s Health

 

 

 

Steve Kent, PC MHA for Mount Pearl North, said, “Cuts to test strip coverage for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador will save money at the expense of people’s health and lead to greater consequences and costs in terms of chronic disease in the long run.”

 

Kent said the province’s pharmacists are concerned because the government has decided not to use the minimum standard set by the Canadian Diabetes Association, but instead used an inferior, outdated standard to determine how many test strips people with diabetes and pre-diabetes need.

 

As of July 1, 2016, the number of test strips that can be obtained at no cost to the patient under the province’s Prescription Drug Program will drop to 50 for patients who are not currently receiving diabetes medication and to 100 for people who are receiving diabetes medication other than insulin.

 

For some groups of people living with diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes - which is the vast majority of people living with the disease - the Liberal government is restricting public coverage of test strips below the Canadian Diabetes Association’s minimum access guidelines.

 

‎"Other provinces that have imposed similar restrictions in the past 18-24 months, including Ontario, B.C. and Saskatchewan, have all met or exceeded the guidelines of the Canadian Diabetes Association, so it is unclear why Newfoundland and Labrador has done the opposite by imposing more restrictive limits," said Kent.

 

‎"While the government is saying that in exceptional circumstances people will still be able to get extra strips, there are forms to be filled out by health care professionals, which creates unnecessary paperwork, time and money for our health care professionals as well as a barrier to care for people who have, or who are significantly at risk of developing, diabetes. The Ball government is not following national best practices and is potentially putting people facing diabetes at risk by not allowing them adequate access to publicly funded programs to help them take responsibility for their own health and wellness," said Kent.

 

Patients use test strips to measure the amount of glucose in their blood so they know whether their blood sugar levels are within an acceptable range or too high. The health consequences of blood sugar levels outside the acceptable range can be significant.

 

Kent said, “The Liberal government is 'making it up as they go along,' not considering the impacts of their decisions, and risking people’s long-term health in order to achieve short-term savings. It is neither sensible nor compassionate to cut back on a service whose purpose is to help people manage their health more effectively so they live longer, healthier lives and avoid the drastic consequences of poorly managed chronic disease. Where is the evidence-based decision-making that they campaigned on?

 

"Our administration decided not to impose such limits to access, and was very supportive of a new provincial diabetes strategy - but the Ball government is heading in the opposite direction by making decisions that are not strategic or responsible," he said.

 

“Surely the Health Minister, as a physician, must be aware of how catastrophic the consequences can be for patients who fail to manage their diabetes and monitor their blood sugar levels properly. Why put patients at greater risk of suffering those consequences?” Kent asked. “It’s not a responsible or compassionate way to save money.”

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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