Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA): Carving its own way

In the Naas Valley, about 1 hour north of Terrace, B.C., the Nisga’a Government manages the delivery of healthcare for Nisga’a communities through the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA). Founded in 1984, NVHA was created by the Nation to empower the Nisga’a Valley to deliver better community health care in an effective and sustainable manner. It is fully accountable to deliver on the vision for improved health care. 

NVHA is unique in that it has its own prescription drug plan, having opted out of the Federal government plan in 1999 and decided to carve its own way. More recently, NVHA clearly recognized that the existing drug plan no longer met the needs of the Nisga’a community members; for example, the plan did not provide access to newer, more effective drugs without pursuing a time-consuming exception process. 

As part of its commitment to delivering better community health care, NVHA embarked on strategy to renew its prescription drug plan. NHVA has a long-standing, collaborative relationship with Buffy Mills, an Indigenous Group Benefits and Pension Advisor at Acera insurance, formerly CapriCMW. The CapriCMW team reached out to Reformulary Group. 

According to Buffy Mills, “Reformulary Group was chosen based on its expertise and experience in formulary development and management and understanding of the importance of coordination with provincial plans, among other plans.”

The Reformulary team, led by founder and CEO Helen Stevenson, undertook extensive consultation among the community, including NVHA leaders, physicians, among others. Reformulary embarked on developing the formulary (prescription drug list) based on several key principles: considering the prevalence of certain medical conditions among citizens; optimizing coordination of benefits with BC PharmaCare to maximize cost sharing with the province; committing to coverage decisions that are based on healthcare value; and, removing the burden of the manual exception process. 

On January 1, 2022, NVHA implemented its new prescription drug plan, powered by Reformulary. The lead-in included a comprehensive communications plan to many stakeholders. Corinne McKay, CEO NVHA commented, “We chose Reformulary because of their experience as well as their commitment to enhancing access to newer more effective therapies for citizens and delivering superb service to our members for exceptions and specialty drug requests. We’re delighted with the new NVHA plan, powered by the Reformulary. Our vision of “Daxgadim Gandidils” – that is, “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits” has been acknowledged through this new prescription drug plan.”