CCRP welcomes NHF subsidy increases, addition of prostate cancer test

THE Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) has welcomed the move from the Government to adjust the National Health Fund's (NHF) Individual Benefits Programme which will see more elders receiving assistance in taking care of their health.

The Government announced on Tuesday that the changes will see higher subsidies, an increase to the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) drug list, and the addition of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.

These additional benefits are expected to take effect by the end of February next year.

Founder of CCRP Jean Lowrie-Chin told the Jamaica Observer that the elders are looking forward to the additional benefits.

"We were delighted to hear that more conditions would be covered and more pharmaceuticals will be offered under the JADEP plan. We are appreciative, very happy..." she said.

"We have submitted a few more conditions to the NHF and we are looking forward to that. We know they can't do everything overnight and we are very grateful for what they have done," said Lowrie-Chin, whose organisation has more than 11,000 members.

Lowrie-Chin added that the NHF changes will ease the financial challenges some elders face who solely depend on their pensions.

"People on a pension are having a lot of challenges due to inflation, so with any concession they get, they are extremely grateful for it. Now that we have heard about these new pharmaceuticals I am sure they are very happy because their pensions can stretch no further. A lot of the folks with underlying conditions — many of them are pensioners," she said.

She also said that with the addition of the prostate-specific antigen test, she hopes more males will get examined.

"Now that it is being offered free, it probably will encourage them more, and remember, early detection is key. We want to join with the Government to appeal to our Jamaican males over 40 to take advantage of this great provision for them," she said.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, who made the disclosure about the NHF changes, said on the NHF card there will now be an additional 41 new active pharmaceutical ingredients for the treatment of eight conditions — hypertension, heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, psychosis, glaucoma, sickle cell disease, and epilepsy.

The NHF board, he said, also approved changes to JADEP to ensure that five pharmaceutical items are added for the treatment of five conditions — arthritis, asthma, glaucoma, hypertension, and vascular disease, based on specific criteria.

— Brittny Hutchinson
The Daily Observer, Friday, December 16, 2022