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Minnis Slams ‘Chaotic’ Nhi

Dr Hubert Minnis

Dr Hubert Minnis

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday castigated the Christie administration over the “chaotic manner” in which it has sought to implement National Health Insurance as he urged the government to delay the launch of the healthcare scheme to properly engage stakeholders.

Dr Minnis also criticised Prime Minister Perry Christie, saying he has yet to reveal what benefits package will come with NHI’s roll out or give taxpayers an accurate estimate of what it will cost to implement the plan.

Meanwhile the Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) released a statement yesterday that said the proposed NHI model constitutes “a hostile takeover” of the private health insurance sector by government.

The association predicted that NHI would destabilise the health insurance sector, which they expect to have a snowballing effect on the entire insurance industry.

The BIA cautioned the government to exercise prudence in its management of the country’s affairs and to implement universal health coverage in The Bahamas in a responsible rather than reckless manner.

This comes the day after Acting Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said while the government is concerned about possible job losses due to the implementation of NHI, the scheme is designed to absorb any possible fallout in the private insurance sector.

He was responding to assertions by a high-level stakeholder in the health insurance industry who told The Tribune this week that as many as 1,000 people will lose their jobs if the government proceeds with NHI without incorporating the BIA’s recommendations.

Despite this, Mr Davis said there have been no discussions to delay rolling-out NHI as criticism continues that the public healthcare system will not be ready to meet the government’s self imposed implementation date of January 1, 2016.

“The Free National Movement strongly supports affordable healthcare for all Bahamians and finds long-term illnesses and deaths as a result of inadequate available funds tragic,” Dr Minnis said in a press statement.

“However, we cannot support the chaotic manner in which the Christie administration is set to implement the proposed National Health Insurance scheme. Because of the lack of proper assessments and evaluations, not surprisingly, the government is unable to say what the roll out of NHI will cost the people of the Bahamas.

“With only one month before implementation, Prime Minister Christie has yet to specify what comes with the NHI scheme. Christie is a man in dreamland with no specific details and is refusing to be guided by any sensible or sound advice to delay the launch of NHI – asleep at the wheel again. It is reported that insurance industry stakeholders believe that the implementation of the scheme will immediately force an estimated 1,000 Bahamians to lose their private sector jobs. Christie’s failing government defiantly asserts that NHI will absorb the job fallout.”

He continued: “Knowing Christie’s empty promise legacy, there is no guarantee these Bahamian professionals will secure jobs and no doubt if they are hired by way of NHI, it is likely they will see a significant reduction in pay.

“Unfortunately for our nation, Prime Minister Christie will not wake up anytime soon, but when he does, he will find that he has failed the Bahamian people miserably. As if the loss of 2,000 jobs at Baha Mar was not bad enough and the VAT burden being carried by Bahamians, Christie is again acting void of all the facts and seemingly with no regard for the critical consequences of his reckless actions.”

Dr Minnis said the Bahamian people can rest assured that an FNM government would be committed to the provision of affordable healthcare for all in a process that is meticulous, prudent, and transparent. He said the Bahamian people have every right to know what they are getting before their tax dollars are spent.

BIA

Yesterday, the BIA said the proposed NHI model represents the nationalisation of private assets using the instruments of the state without duly compensating shareholders.

According to the association, the government has no interest in engaging in any consultation – other than paying lip service to the idea – as it relates to NHI implementation.

“The structure of the insurance industry in the Bahamas makes it difficult to accurately predict the full potential impact of the proposed NHI model on employment within the health insurance sector,” the statement read.

“Long-term insurers are often licensed to sell both life and health insurance products; hence the destabilisation of the health insurance sector is expected to have a snowballing effect on the life insurance sector in particular and the entire insurance industry in general.

“When the likely impact on insurance brokers, agents and salespersons is factored in, significant job losses can be expected.

“The losses that the government can expect will be significant not only because of the loss of jobs but because of the loss of revenue from diminished premium taxes and NIB contributions – from both the employer and the employee – as well as loss of revenue from VAT on medical premiums.”

The BIA said the private sector would like to caution the government that the projected job losses pale in comparison to the potential impact of the nationalisation of the private health insurance sector on the overall Bahamian insurance industry, relationships with global partners and the country’s reputation within the global financial services sector.

It also went on to criticise the government for failing to address recent comments by Etoile Pinder, an employee of government consultants Sanigest Internacional, who described opponents of the current NHI model as “morons” and “money-grubbing asses” on her Facebook page.

“The cost of NHI is still unknown,” the BIA statement added. “PricewaterhouseCoopers had indicated in its report to the government that it was unable to validate the estimates and assumptions put forward by Sanigest. They also suggested that the costs might have been significantly underestimated by Sanigest.

“This follows the opinion of a global consultancy firm Marsh & McLennan that the NHI report provided by Sanigest is actuarially invalid, strategically flawed and the timelines are unrealistic.”

The BIA said the private sector is still hopeful that the prime minister will see the logic and wisdom of addressing the flaws within the proposed NHI model before it is too late.

Comments

TruePeople 3 years, 8 months ago

QUOTE: With only one month before implementation, Prime Minister Christie has yet to specify what comes with the NHI scheme.

Or properly consult with stakeholders, plan, discuss transparently in the public forum (too much double talking) or justify how the NHI will be funded (most are assuming a new tax contrary to gov't press releases)....

I want to know WHY they actually want NHI, and then maybe i'd understand what all the rush is... otherwise i'm unclear about what the gov't is trying to accomplish here.

A phased in plan (maybe focusing on emergency care first) would be a good idea....

If this is truly in the Bahamaian peoples interest... why do we not have concrete information about this?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 8 months ago

It's all about distraction and Minnis can't help but be distracted!

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Economist 3 years, 8 months ago

The proposed implementation of NHI is undemocratic and its implications could economically ruin the Country.

If it is passed by Parliament our Governor General should refuse to sign, as provided for in the Constitution.

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Islandgirl 3 years, 8 months ago

Marguerite? Hah! Don't count on it.

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Reality_Check 3 years, 8 months ago

Remember, Minnis had the nerve to tell all of us that he had no conflict of interest arising from his property holding company receiving very generous monthly rental payments from the Public Hospital Authority....he pointedly said that the lease was with his company and not him personally, so therefore there was no conflict of interest involving himself. What a joke! This man, like Christie, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Dr Marcus Bethel, Baltron Bethel and so many others, was simply never fit then and is not fit now to hold public office!!

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 8 months ago

Does Minnis have a copy of the proposed NHI scheme????????? Why can't he tell us what Perry has in the scheme????????? ........... now if he is ignorant of the NHI then we should be concerned .......... If HAI knows whats in the scheme and is playing politics, then he cannot be taken seriously as a national leader

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Abaconian 3 years, 8 months ago

Christie has lost all of his senses.

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Reality_Check 3 years, 8 months ago

The Tribune seems to be worried about all of the advertising dollars it will lose out on when the health insurers are taken out of the picture by a universal single payer healthcare system that will provide affordable quality healthcare to all Bahamians. Some healthcare is better than no healthcare which has been the case for most Bahamians for many years now as a result of the outrageously high premiums charged by the health insurance companies. Right now, only the well-off are being insured by the private healthcare insurers, leaving the poor to suffer the horrid consequences of no healthcare or poor quality healthcare as a result of the significant portion of healthcare insurance premiums siphoned off by the healthcare insurers to pay their lavish administrative costs and generate overly generous profits for their shareholders.

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Honestman 3 years, 8 months ago

Reality-Check: You say "only the well-off are being insured by the private healthcare insurers". This is nonsense, it is mainly hard working ordinary Bahamians who have private health care. It is these hard working Bahamians who are going to have to foot the bill for an NHI scheme that is neither properly planned or costed. No one wants to see people get sick for want of funds or insurance and the country needs to do more to help in this regard - no doubt about that. However, what will not help those people in the long run is The Bahamian economy being brought to its knees trying to support an NHI scheme that is simply unsustainable in the form that is currently envisaged by the PLP. Anyone who possesses a grain of sense can see that Christie is playing politics with the gullible in a desperate attempt to cling to power. He and his cohorts have no intention of consulting with stakeholders in the health business. His intention is to force the scheme through, introduce higher NIB contributions in the May budget (but nothing like the amount that will be needed) and persuade his supporters that he has "delivered" NHi. In effect all that he will have done is nudged the economy to the edge of the precipice leaving the FNM to bring the country back from the brink by restructuring NHI to something that the country can afford. Christie and the PLP believe that there are not enough intelligent Bahamians capable of seeing through their deceit. They will pay the price for this misjudgment.

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Economist 3 years, 8 months ago

Reality_Check what about the cost of the Dialysis Treatment for Bahamians. Do you know how that works, who owns it, what the costs are?

Look at the cost comparisons in other countries?

We all need to slow down and take a good look at what really is, never mind the noise in the market, and see what needs to be done.

We are no where near ready for NHI.

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themessenger 3 years, 8 months ago

It is an unfortunate fact of life that there will always be haves and have nots and impoverishing one group of people to empower another has, in many countries, proven to be counterproductive. Socialism, including healthcare, may be a very grand and noble concept but the reality of it is as once stated by a wise statesman;

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

I for one know what I'm currently getting for my premiums, and I'm under no illusions about what I'll get for my taxes under a government run NHI.

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