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Free drug coverage for Palliative Home Care Patients

palliativecoverageNew changes to the funding of palliative care drugs means relief and support to patients who die at home. Drugs given to patients while they are staying in hospital are paid for by the hospital while drugs taken at home are the responsibility of the patient. In the case of palliative care patients, the same rule applied until fairly recently. Patients who chose to stay in a palliative care unit received the drugs they needed free of charge while those who chose to remain at home had to cover their own drug costs.

With the expansion of the Palliative Home Care Drug Coverage Program on February 15, 2012, patients receiving palliative care at home are now eligible for full drug coverage providing they:

• Live in Nova Scotia and have a valid health care number;
• Are diagnosed by a physician with a terminal illness;
• Are accepted into a district /IWK palliative care program
• Are assessed by the district/ IWK palliative care program team to be within six months of anticipated death; and
• Are living at home, defined as wherever a person is living, whether in their home, with family or friends, or in a supportive living residence. This does not include a hospital setting or palliative care unit.

“Many terminally-ill patients prefer to spend their last days at home, in familiar surroundings, cared for by family and friends. This coverage will give patients and their loved ones a real choice about where and how they spend their remaining time together,” said Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald.

The Program covers drugs recommended for coverage in the Pan-Canadian Gold Standards in Palliative Home Care, a national standard. Drugs will be dispensed at community pharmacies at no cost to the patients. Pharmacies will direct-bill the Department of Health and Wellness for all expenses.

For more information on the Palliative Home Care Drug Program, call 902-424-5859.

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