By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Christie administration is now seeking to engage “every single” National Health Insurance stakeholder in attempts to further expedite the implementation of the proposed scheme, Chief Medical Officer Dr Glen Beneby said yesterday.
Dr Beneby told The Tribune that the government is “more engaged than ever before” with NHI’s various stakeholders.
Dr Beneby’s statements come almost a month after United Healthcare Reform Alliance (UHRA), a coalition effort by nine of the nation’s leading medical, allied health and insurance groups, rejected the government’s proposed NHI model. The group insisted that no support would be given until the plan is adequately revised.
Last month, UHRA officials castigated the NHI proposal, calling it unfeasible, flawed and unsustainable as presently configured. The group further claimed that the draft legislation governing NHI was developed without input from local stakeholders, despite all efforts by the group to aid the government in its planning.
However, the group said at the time that it had not drafted any alternatives to the government’s NHI proposal.
When questioned yesterday on how discussions were coming along between the government and NHI’s stakeholders, Dr Beneby said: “We are more engaged than ever before, and we are looking to engage all the groups, every single group, because it’s only with communication we’re going to be able to move this process in the direction we want to with the understanding that it needs to happen.”
He added: “What people don’t appreciate is that many times we’re not getting the response from different stakeholders because we have not meaningfully been engaged with it.”
In late March, Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez told reporters that the primary healthcare phase of NHI, which was due to come on stream in April, would be delayed by “around six months or so.”
Government consultant Mark Britnell, of KPMG, has also said the process would take months, adding that a public health insurer must be established before primary healthcare services could be offered through NHI.
The government has yet to table and pass NHI legislation in Parliament, nor has the Christie administration revealed how much it will cost taxpayers.