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Nhi Legislation Released - But No Word On Funding

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE draft legislation for the government’s proposed National Health Insurance scheme has been released, but officials yesterday were still uncertain on how the scheme would be funded once implemented.

A major change in the draft legislation is that signing on to NHI will no longer be mandatory. Eligible people would be able to decide whether they want to be a part of the scheme once it is fully implemented.

Additionally, the bill, if enacted would establish the NHI Authority – a body with the freedom to manage its own accounts, borrow money on its own behalf to fund its operation and the power to invest freely whatever funds falls under its purview.

During a press conference at the NHI Secretariat on East Street, NHI Permanent Secretary Peter Deveaux-Isaacs; NHI Project Manager Dr Delon Brennen and legal consultant Damara Dillet presented the 43-page document - marking the Christie administration’s most significant step in its implementation of universal health coverage.

The draft bill seeks to, in part, repeal the NHI Act of 2007, implement the government’s long promised scheme through legal framework and set up a NHI fund.

According to Mr Deveaux-Isaacs, the scheme is a crucial part of the government’s plan to make the Bahamas the healthiest nation in the Caribbean by 2030.

“What we are asking of stakeholders is to provide the Secretariat with tangible and constructive feedback on how this draft can be strengthened or clarified so we can work together to develop the final version that is presented to Parliament,” he said.

“The NHI Secretariat remains open to any and all stakeholders for their input and for their concerns to be expressed and comments,” he added.

To date, the government has not given any clear details about how the scheme will be funded once implemented.

Mr Christie said late last year that the government would not consider a tax to fund the new scheme until after the next fiscal year.

Yesterday, Dr Brennen said he was still unaware of where funding would come from for NHI.

“A policy decision on whether there will be contribution and or when there will be contributions has not been made by the political directorate so we don’t have any timelines on that,” he said.

Earlier this month, the NHI Secretariat held town meetings in Grand Bahama and New Providence.

The series of community forums are expected to be ramped up in the coming weeks, with officials set to expand public discussion on NHI to a number of Family Island communities.

Dr Brennen said it was important for NHI officials to get into as many communities as possible to explain the finer details of the plan.

“As a medical doctor in paediatric emergency medicine, on a daily basis, I see the struggles everyday Bahamians go through to get care for themselves and their families,” he said.

“I see pregnant women unable to afford an ultrasound. I see men avoiding going to the doctor and their heart and blood pressure checked for fear that it will cost them their month’s salary - National Health Insurance Bahamas will change all of this.”

NHI’s primary healthcare phase was scheduled to be introduced in April.

However, earlier this week, Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez said NHI would “likely” be delayed.

Comments

B_I_D___ 4 years, 1 month ago

Nice to finally see some of the legislation before they force it down our throats...still amazes me that they were willing to roll this whole thing out without even having the legislation out in the public arena. They must KNOW it's going to be crap and people are going to balk at it.

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Honestman 4 years, 1 month ago

"A major change in the draft legislation is that signing on to NHI will no longer be mandatory. Eligible people would be able to decide whether they want to be a part of the scheme once it is fully implemented."

Well at least they got something right...AT LAST!!! So let's face it, EVERYONE with private medical insurance is going to opt out of NHI. This means that government can focus on those with no access to private health insurance. Over the next three to five years, whichever Party is in power, needs to work at improving the public medical facilities and resources throughout The Bahamas so that EVENTUALLY individuals have a genuine choice to make in terms of staying private or opting for NHI. How these improvements are funded is up to government but why not start with a National Lottery with the profits going to NHI? It should not always be about increasing NIB/Taxes.

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 1 month ago

.......... not a real big deal ...... only 20% of Bahamians have private health insurance ......... NHI is still catering to the majority

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 1 month ago

Is this the discussion-only draft ............. as opposed to the Cabinet (top-secret) draft?? Remember ........... the civilian is never privy to the official Cabinet information (LOL)

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