Seniors urged to mobilize over proposed drug plan

Seniors were urged to flood the offices of MLAs and government ministers with letters protesting a new drug plan that links the amount some people pay to their income.

Seniors were urged to flood the offices of MLAs and government ministers with letters protesting a new drug plan that links the amount some people pay to their income.

The Red Deer Legion meeting hall was packed with close to 300 seniors Tuesday morning, many of them drawn by the promise of a discussion on the new provincial drug plan that kicks in January 2010.

Under the plan, low-income seniors will get their drugs for free while others will pay a deductible ranging from $149 to $7,500 a year, based on income.

Sam Van Gunst strongly objects to the requirement that seniors must reveal their income to pharmacists to determine how much of a deductible they will pay under the new plan announced by Health Minister Ron Liepert last December and which goes into effect in January 2010.

“This is a direct invasion … of my privacy,” Van Gunst said following the presentation by Red Deer pharmacist Vikki Cole at the Central Alberta Council on Aging general meeting.

He urged seniors to make sure government officials know how they feel.

A federal government plan to tax life insurance benefits 15 years ago was stopped in its tracks by a seniors outcry.

“If we snow them with paper coming from the grey power they are going to sit up and take notice.”

Sam Denhaan, of the council’s aging committee, was not surprised by the overflow turnout. A presentation on the drug plan at Red Deer College Monday night also drew a standing-room-only- audience of 200.

“They all seem to be of one mind, which is outcry about how this happened.”

Denhaan is critical of the province’s lack of effort in getting the information out to seniors. Directing people to a government website is not enough because many seniors don’t go online to get information, he added.

“If you have information you should show it properly. I think this whole thing is almost under the radar — and deliberately so. They didn’t want to get people aroused until it was fait accompli.”

Edna Twidale was at the presentation to get a better idea of how she and her husband will be affected by the drug plan changes. She expects it will cost them more money.

“I’m not sure. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it yet.”

Twidale said she doesn’t know why the government could not have left the drug plan as it was.

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