Cassar evasive on ‘free’ medicine refund system

Health Minister Joe Cassar avoids questions seeking clarifications into the PN’s proposed ‘free’ medicine refund system for pharmacies.

Health Minister Joe Cassar declines to clarify the Nationalist Party's proposal to refund the cost of out of stock free medicines directly to pharmacies.
Health Minister Joe Cassar declines to clarify the Nationalist Party's proposal to refund the cost of out of stock free medicines directly to pharmacies.

Health Minister Joe Cassar has avoided serving up details regarding the Nationalist Party's proposal whereby out of stock free medicine obtained by patients from private pharmacies would be paid for by government.

The PN's current proposal comes in the wake of several instances where PN speakers shifted position regarding the self-same proposal.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil and finance minister Tonio Fenech have recently said that patients would receive a refund from government, based on the price by which the government purchases those medications.

However according to the PN's latest stand on the issue, announced by Gonzi, patients would get the medicine for free with an agreement between the government and pharmacists, while government would pay for the cost of the medications to pharmacists.

Asked to explain how the system envisaged by the PN would work, and what sort of agreement would be entered into by government and private pharmacies, Cassar was however evasive, and suggested that the precise agreement has yet to be hammered out.

"This is an electoral programme," Cassar said, holding up the PN's electoral booklet.

"An electoral programme is a government's programme for the coming five years. As far as I know, when you have make statement, it is obvious that one has to meet all stakeholders and obviously, the system that is best suited for all involved will be sought out," Cassar said. "That is what we always did, and what we will keep on doing."

Cassar also avoided direct questions whether the government had discussed this proposal with the Chamber of Pharmacists, reiterating his previous statement wherein he insisted that discussions between stakeholders would take place.

"In our electoral programme, we are promising what we intend to do. Like everything else we did in the past, this will be done by means of discussions."

Cassar also took the opportunity to attack the Labour Party, questioning whether their pledge to cut down on bureaucracy would mean that it would ignore proper tendering rules and operate on the basis of direct orders.

Cassar also dismissed former health minister Louis Deguara's appraisal that the current proposals tabled by the PL and the PN would bankrupt Malta's national healthcare system.

Cassar insisted that the PN in government was able to expand healthcare, cut down on waiting lists, increase operations done annually, "all while also reducing the deficit and keeping the country's finances on a strong footing."

Cassar also said the Labour Party's claims that it would revise the procurement system whereby medication is purchased by government is something that is already being undertaken by government.

He added that a call for expressions of interested to do precisely that was issued in February 2012, closed in March of the same year, and is currently undergoing an appeal.

He did not say however when the actual revision of the medicine procurement system would start, or when it would be concluded. 

GonziPN has had many, many years to put into practice what they had preached. Their results were extremely inferior to their many words of self praise and touted expectations. TIME UP! GAME OVER!
For past experience I have realised that the PN and its Party cannot be trusted in even the simples vow. Are you going to trust them wityh your kids future for another 5 years ? I won't even trust them for a simple five seconds. Pack up and go ALL of you lot, Malta needs a Break. Malta need a Future which you didn't give in the last 25 years. All you gave us was debts and deficits, poverty, precarious work, sky high prices, like gas and water & electricity billd, for us, our family memebers, friends and neighbours.
Minister Cassar has been very evasive on the issue of appointing consultants in surgery. He never gave a clear explanation for the reason for annullment of the posts in September 2012. It was clear that meritocracy does not count and that although the selection board members had to answer for all the mess Minister Cassar is ulimately responsible for all this mess. This is one reason among others which they do not like to mention why many specialists in surgery are scared of coming to Malta! It is not surprising that he is now evasive on other issues. I shall certainly not trust him again with this ministerial position.
This and previous contradictory statements by GonziPN on free medicines show that they have no real policy on the matter. Or rather, they have a hidden agenda to stop or curtail free medicines.
"In our electoral programme, we are promising what we intend to do"--- JUST like you did in the last election. Rock on Joe, nobody believes you anymore.
My head is spinning. Their contradictions are spectacular. Ask the PM, he will tell you one thing. Ask Clyde Puli, he will tell you a different thing altogether. Ask Minister Cassar, he will be evasive. Check the Electoral Manifesto and guess which interpretation is correct!