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Tyee Poll: What Do You Think of the Liberal Plan to Lower MSP Premiums?

The only province that directly bills its citizens for health-care coverage? That’d be us, here in B.C.

On Tuesday, following years of calls from advocates and politicians to eliminate Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums, the BC Liberals announced a new strategy. The plan, outlined in the annual budget, promises to cut premiums to 1992 levels at the start of next year.

This would turn the tide on premium increases, which have steadily risen under the current Liberal government — fees have more than doubled since 2000. The premiums have long been criticized as a damaging and regressive tax — lower-income residents pay a much higher portion of their income to MSP premiums than do the wealthy.

The Liberals say the promised reduction will cut premiums in half for some two million B.C. residents — a savings of about $900 per year for a family of four — though it stops shorts of eliminating the premiums. The catch? Families will need to register with the government before they see any reduction in premiums.

Advocates worry that the proposed plan falls short of a comprehensive solution. “I want to eliminate the entire MSP, not just half of it,” Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives told The Tyee. Ivanova also wonders how the government will make up for the lost revenue. “The big problem for me is we’re giving up the revenues at a time when we obviously have unmet needs in the health care system.”

And questions remain about who will reap the benefits in cases where employers have been paying all or part of MSP premiums on behalf of employees.

NDP finance critic Carole James was quick to point out the pre-election timing of the government’s proposal.

* Please note that all poll answers will be publicly viewable, but anonymous.

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Please note that Tyee Barometer polls are only intended as a quick and engaging non-scientific snapshot of our readers' opinions on various topics that fit with The Tyee's very broad editorial mandate. They are not intended to be seen as a representative sampling of BC opinion.

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