Govt still working on $10m catastrophic care fund

HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville. (File photo)

HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville. (File photo)


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE Davis administration is still working out the logistics of how it will administer the $10m allocated for catastrophic healthcare in the country, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville said yesterday.

Dr Darville was asked about the issue during a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

“This is a new selective catastrophic component,” he said. “It’s a line item. I'm excited about it because it will provide essential tertiary services, life-threatening catastrophic services to many Bahamians who have been waiting for years.

“We have Bahamians who have been waiting for bypass surgery, a lot of cardiovascular interventions that are not available at Princess Margaret Hospital and they have to hit the road to have cookouts. This particular service will begin to address a lot of issues as it relates to these individuals.

“As far as how it's going to be administered, we are working on all of the logistics, and Cabinet will finalise the final draft on how it’s to be done but I want to assure the Bahamian people, everyone to the sound of my voice, that I have made it very clear that the funding will be fully audited.

“There will be a serious guideline as relates to how the funding is spent. But it is for Bahamians who do not have the financial means to access these lifesaving procedures and we're going to do the best of our ability.”

Dr Darville said since being elected to office, his ministry has offered assistance to several families who otherwise couldn’t afford to have certain medical procedures carried out.

“I've been doing some of it now for the last ten months. It's been a case-by-case basis going to Cabinet,” he said.

“It’s very tedious, but we have helped quite a few people who've been waiting around for important eye surgery, cardiovascular interventions, emergency surgeries, some areas of orthopaedics, and the list goes on and on.

“So, selective catastrophic care and this line item is foreshadowing what is to come in catastrophic healthcare insurance. This is not catastrophic healthcare insurance. This is something that stands in the gap until we deliver catastrophic health care insurance, which we promised the Bahamian people in our blueprint for change.”

Asked yesterday how many Bahamians are expected to benefit from this selective catastrophic healthcare, Dr Darville said it was too difficult to give an estimate.

He added: “I want to say this, if I have, let's say twenty Bahamians who need immediate cardiovascular intervention. If I was to consult or get involved a specialist to give me a price, if I go to them with one, the price would be higher (than) if I go to them with ten. So, when you have this kind of leverage, you could compete for services at a better price and so this is where we’re looking at so this is the logic by having resources in place so that you can do better negotiations for services.”

He was also asked what steps will have to be taken by the government to fully implement catastrophic health insurance into NHI this term.

“Catastrophic health insurance is a complicated thing to deliver because you want to use risk management to provide these essential lifesaving services,” he replied.

“The question is whether (there) would be a tax directly to the taxpayer or whether we would find other means to get resources to pay for the service. But ultimately, there's a cost and we need to work on the logistics of how the implementation of the cost will happen. Right now, the economy, as far as we're concerned in this budget cycle, is not ready to address any additional burden to the taxpayer. What our ministry is looking at many other ways to lay the foundation in order to provide catastrophic health insurance.

“So, there's many things that we are looking at. Some are progressive, and we are working diligently because we're committed to the Bahamian people that we would deliver it in this term in office and we intend to live up with what's in our blueprint for change.”


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