Atlantic health ministers hope more regional cooperation will combat rising health care costs.

For the first time in three years, Atlantic health ministers met this week in Charlottetown to discuss more collaboration in controlling health care spending and providing better services with rising health-care costs.

The health ministers said with a population of two million, the Atlantic provinces have a combined health care budget of  $9 billion.

They are also considering a European model for the regional purchase of generic drugs, which they say could save Atlantic Canada $400 million a year.

"I had it raised that there was a concern that perhaps the services that we provide may not be fully, adequately compensated,” said N.S. Health Minister Leo Glavine. “But you know, I believe in that regional cooperation.”

Health Minister Ted Flemming, who reduced New Brunswick’s $3 billion health care budget, said they made great progress in consolidating laundries, in generic drugs and in human resources. 

“We went from 12 vice-presidents to four. So, a lot of these things  have been done because it's just long overdue,” he said.

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie said they are paying close attention to administrative costs and constantly reviewing the level of expenditures.

Newfoundland has moved to bulk purchasing through health care and all other government departments searching for the best value.

"Everything from purchase of vehicles, to supplies and equipment that various departments would utilize, travel services, those types  of things,” said N.L. Health Minister Paul Davis.

He said they are looking closely at the costs of providing many specialized services to patients from other provinces.