FNHA enters new partnership with Pacific Blue Cross

May 28, 2019 The Tablet
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CEOs Joe Gallager (front left, First Nations Health Authority) and John Crawford (front right, Pacific Blue Cross) sign a five-year services agreement and commitment to cultural humility and safety.

Improved health benefits program for First Nations people in B.C.

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) recently announced that it has partnered with Pacific Blue Cross to administer a suite of health benefits to First Nations residents of B.C. 

Starting in September 2019, Pacific Blue Cross will administer benefits on behalf of the FNHA for dental, vision, medical supplies and equipment as well as drugs not covered by PharmaCare. Currently, approximately 144,000 First Nations people in B.C. receive these benefits primarily through Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) — a national program that provides coverage to registered First Nations for a specified range of medically necessary items and services that are not covered by other plans and programs.

“This migration off the Health Canada system is another step forward in self-governance over health services in British Columbia,” says Joe Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FNHA. “It offers us an opportunity to review and re-design the delivery of non-insured health benefits to improve coverage and make the system more efficient and effective — for clients and health-care providers alike.”

Pacific Blue Cross was selected in a proposal process overseen by a multidisciplinary selection committee that included Allan Louis of the First Nations Health Council and Vanessa Charlong of the First Nations Health Directors Association.

Gallagher says partnering with Pacific Blue Cross will allow the FNHA to draw on the experience of a health benefits provider that has a successful track record of working with both health-care providers and clients.

“We are confident Pacific Blue Cross will be an excellent partner. It has a comprehensive and effective health claims infrastructure and it has demonstrated a collaborative approach as well as a strong commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility.” 

John Crawford, the President and CEO of Pacific Blue Cross, says his organization is excited to be part of  an interconnected system evolving to support the health and wellness needs of First Nations people across the province. 

At a signing ceremony held on Apr. 16, 2019, at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, both FNHA and Pacific Blue Cross CEOs signed a Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility safety and a five-year services agreement.

The first phase of the benefits transition from Health Canada to the FNHA took place in October 2017 with the transfer of non-insured pharmacy benefits to PharmaCare Plan Wellness. The second phase is expected to take place in mid-September. Already, the FNHA and Pacific Blue Cross have been carrying out a comprehensive consultation effort with health regulators, individual health-care providers, clients and other individuals and organizations involved with the delivery of First Nations health care. 

Further updates will be communicated through health-care professional associations for changes to the First Nations Health Benefits program. If you have any questions, please contact provider@fnha.ca.

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