By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
BAHAMAS Insurance Association (BIA) chairman Emmanuel Komolafe said yesterday that although the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday appears to have incorporated some stakeholders’ recommendations, “major concerns” remain.
Mr Komolafe told Tribune Business: “A preliminary review revealed that some of the recommendations of various stakeholders relating to reporting and the composition of the NHIA board among others, were incorporated into the revised version of the draft legislation. However, it is apparent that some major concerns regarding the role and powers of the Minister, data protection, lack of accompanying regulations and administration of the plan remain. We are hopeful that we will be able to work through these issues and concerns in the weeks ahead.”
The revised NHI Bill tabled in Parliament on Wednesday appears to have reduced some of the powers of the Minister proposed under the draft Bill, most notably cutting the number of people to be appointed to the Authority’s Board, which had been a concern expressed by the BIA.
Mr Komolafe described the National Health Insurance Bill, 2016, as a landmark legislation, with its tabling representing a significant step in the journey to universal health care.
“The draft legislation is important because it provides, inter alia, a framework for the establishment of the NHI Authority and the NHI Fund. The bigger picture is, however, the achievement of a higher level of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the Bahamas as NHI is only the funding mechanism for UHC. In this regard, it is expected that more focus will be placed on UHC and comprehensive healthcare reform going forward. This seems to be the objective as the Minister of Health noted that there are about 180 ongoing projects relating to the Bahamas’ UHC journey with the strengthening of the public healthcare system being the major priority,” said Mr Komolafe.
He added: “The UHC journey is a long and challenging one that will require collaboration between the public and private sectors more than ever before if we are to achieve our objective of being the healthiest country in the Caribbean region by 2030. Following the tabling of the draft NHI Bill, our efforts should be focused on reviewing of the Bill and making the requisite changes where appropriate to address any deficiencies with a view to enacting the best version of the legislation possible. That being said, there is much work to be done by the government working with stakeholders to ensure that the final plan implemented is practical, reasonable and sustainable.”