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Minnis Wants Transparency Over Nhi Introduction

Dr Hubert Minnis

Dr Hubert Minnis

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday renewed calls for greater transparency in the government’s proposed roll-out of National Health Insurance.

Dr Minnis expressed scepticism over the government’s ability to fund the new healthcare scheme given the country’s fiscal challenges, and insisted that the focus should instead be diverted to public consultation with the private sector and the strengthening of the existing healthcare system.

Dr Minnis, the former minister of health, warned Bahamians not to be fooled by a premature registration drive that would not be followed by any significant NHI implementation.

“How is this going to be paid for?” he asked.

“The government said there would be no extra taxes but the consultant Sanigest stated that monies presently in the healthcare system can be utilised, but if you do that, what happens to the existing healthcare system? It will subsequently collapse.

“There are so many inconsistencies. Then we’ve just been struck with a hurricane in the south, there is a cost there. Over 2,000 people were laid off at Baha Mar, there is a cost there. Then what is the effect on the private sector? The government has not entered gainful, meaningful discussion with the private sector. This can result in massive layoffs if not done properly because the private sector if they are selling or dealing with NHI, invariably their comprehensive packages will decrease.

“Layoffs in the private sector are middle income jobs,” Dr Minnis said, “which means that you will have home foreclosures, schools affected, and the middle class would subsequently shrink – poverty would increase.”

“There are too many inconsistencies,” Dr Minnis added. “The PLP administration needs to be honest with the Bahamian people, that’s first and foremost.”

When asked whether or not he felt the initiative ought to be postponed, Dr Minnis said: “I think they need to continue along the path that we (the former administration) were engaging in a phase wise manner and concentrate now on strengthening the system, correcting the problems, the infrastructural needs, the health integration needs, the supplies, the equipment, all this needs to be done.”

The government allocated $60 million for NHI in the 2014/2015 fiscal year, and has said the initiative will be phased in over a five-year period.

Public Hospitals Authority Managing Director Herbert Brown, earlier this year, said that a substantial amount of the $60m allocation would be spent on infrastructure upgrades and improvements in the public health sector.

In September, Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez confirmed that NHI was still on schedule for a January 2016 roll out of the first phase – registration.

Yesterday, Dr Minnis called for the government to release a report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers report on NHI costs.

He pointed to the inconsistencies between estimates calculated by Sanigest, the government’s consultant, and the Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA).

Sanigest has reportedly presented the government with schemes that range in cost from $300 to $600 million annually, while the BIA pegged annual costs at nearly $1 billion.

“This government has been stepping from one blunder to another, they can’t manage, would you trust them with this? They don’t like consultation, and when they consult they don’t listen, that’s been demonstrated with the (gaming) referendum,” Dr Minnis said. “What they need really now is a roadmap moving forward, a roadmap would show us a timeline in terms of health care system strengthening, integration, electronic medical records, what basically this country needs now is a rebooting of the entire government system.

“In rebooting this whole system of governance, let’s reboot and boot this government out. I ask the people don’t be fooled, don’t allow this government to fool you again like they did during the last election, to commence a registration drive only with nothing behind it. They would commence that and make it appear as if NHI is on its way, we would not be fooled.”

Comments

Honestman 4 years, 1 month ago

Look, it is quite simple. I would love to have a brand new Mercedes but my income doesn't allow for it at the moment. Maybe in five years time when my business is performing better and my turnover is higher then I can consider that new Mercedes. In the meantime, the sensible thing for me to do is to continue with my second hand Volkswagen and make sure it is properly and regularly serviced. The stark reality is that THE BAHAMAS CANNOT AFFORD NHI AT THIS TIME yet the Prime Minister in a desperate attempt to create some sort of legacy (in his mind only!) is determined to try and force through a scheme that for any first world country would be a topic of serious and lengthy debate among the stakeholders and the populace. But thinks the PM: "I have so many gullible supporters - all I have to do is give them a registration card anytime between now and May 2017 and they will think they have won a watch! Another term will be secured for me. Aren't I such a clever Prime Minister and hey, ain't I a good dancer?"

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Islandgirl 4 years, 1 month ago

I guess perry didn't get the notice that his legacy is already assured: abject failure.

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TruthHurts 4 years, 1 month ago

To add.. I must go and give away the little I have left to the government and they can't seem to find the money or manpower to help those affected by Joaquin?? What happened to the VAT funds? or the monies from the 'Successful' Junkanoo Carnival? Millions spent on foolishness and now when people need help you can't find not a one? To hell with NHI!

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TruthHurts 4 years, 1 month ago

http://tribune242.com/users/photos/20...">http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin..." alt="This is all they're good for! Posing! GOOD JOB!">

http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin...">This is all they're good for! Posing! GOOD JOB! by TruthHurts

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themessenger 4 years, 1 month ago

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!

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BaronInvest 4 years, 1 month ago

You'll be indeed surprised how medical costs go down once a government has to pay for it. For me it's actually cheaper to fly to Spain, stay in a hotel for a week and buy it there...
Look at Cuba, very poor economy but a leading one in the health and medical sector. National Health Insurance is a good thing and can bring medical costs actually down. I just fear that this government does not have the competence and that it indeed might make it more expensive.

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Islandgirl 4 years, 1 month ago

It is your last sentence that exactly describes why something like that would not work here. That, and every one id on the take. NOTHING that they are in charge of, especially when it comes to money, results in anything good.

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BaronInvest 4 years, 1 month ago

But the issue here is not the health insurance for everyone, it's the people in charge who cannot be trusted. Every time i go to a local doctor here i'm shocked when the bill comes, even when i know that my european insurance will cover it fully. Healthcare should not be a luxury and available to everyone, for someone from europe it's a basic human right, something so fundamental - it's the job of the government to ensure that it's citizens are healthy and do not have to worry. I don't understand how Bahamians are accepting the current health system, it's a mess and expensive.

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TruthHurts 4 years, 1 month ago

They DON'T! and we as a people all know that, and have no confidence in them. We seem to be in a 'let them eat cake' situation. What can we do?!

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TheMadHatter 4 years, 1 month ago

If he wanted transparency, he should ask the former PM - his buddy - why he didn't increase the powers of shadow ministers while he was in power.

The shadow minister of Finance (for example) cannot go into the Ministry of Finance and obtain the figure for the amount of money spent one - for example - police vehicle maintenance in 2014 - nor any other figure for any other thing.

Shadow ministers have NO POWER to obtain any information from govt other than you and i can. The only way they get info is from insiders loyal to the party - and that is not easy either unless it is in a printed file - because access to all files in computers (likely) are noted who accessed which record and what date & time they did so - at least I assume so.

If the FNM won power next week - trust me - he would not change a thing - and his speaker of the house would prevent opposition members from speaking just like Loretta prevented last week - and he didn't even speak out against that.

He will just be our 4th dictator since "independence".

TheMadHatter

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 1 month ago

Instead of opposing a seriously flawed and unaffordable NHI plan, he wants it. Minnis is all for bigger government and believing that government can spend it better than the private sector. This is why he is no different than Christie and will see to it that you and your business and/or employer are coerced through pie-in-the-sky promises and legislation to turning over to government just about every dollar that you and/or your business or employer dearly need to keep and have every fundamental right to keep and spend as you and/or your business or your employer see fit. All PLP or FNM led governments have demonstrated over the years that they are only capable of squandering whatever is turned over to them by way of national insurance contributions, VAT, utility charges, license and other fees.......the size of government and free handouts by government to buy votes will continue to grow like a lethal cancer as long as PLP or FNM governments are able to suck in the cash from you and me....bleeding us, our families and children, to a guaranteed death of untold hardship!

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 1 month ago

This has to be stopped!! We cannot allow this ignorant group of amateurs to do this right now! The country is hurting bad. We have been taxed to death, crime is ridiculous, unemployment is way up. The country simply cannot afford NHI right now. Perry is a moron. He has no concept of reality. We cannot allow this idiot to do this....

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TruePeople 4 years, 1 month ago

Bey dis bey could talk aye bey. Talk talk bey, and yall ein sayin nuttin

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