- One Bermuda Alliance Leader Jeanne Atherden issued the following statement on Monday evening:
The Bermuda Health Council which was formed in 2006 by the Progressive Labour Party Government through the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004 enhances and coordinates the delivery of healthcare services. It is a regulatory body which ensures the health system is sustainable. It monitors health finances and expenditures whilst increasing cost effectiveness. As the population ages it will increasingly become more difficult to maintain quality health care without managing the cost of health care.
The Government made a statement “making health care more affordable is one of the most important Government initiatives” but when there has been an opportunity to reduce the COST paid for a service it back tracks. The fees approved for implementation on July 1, 2017, had a basis for the recommendation by the Bermuda Health Council. They considered fees too high when compared to other jurisdictions, making it a profitable service and now the profit margin will be reduced and the burden on the insured would be lessened. Without seeing the books of an organization one cannot say if ‘the financial losses’ incurred would now make it unprofitable.
The PLP Government in its ‘CT and MRI Fact Sheet’ has stated that the fees which the OBA Government approved to be charged “were significantly lower than the technical recommendation”. As the Minister involved in the setting of the fees I dispute this claim
The Fact Sheet mentions costing Government an extra $8.6 million if the diagnostic imaging fees are also paid by insurers other than Government and confirm that they will be paying for ALL plans not just for the fees covered by the plans referred to in figure 1 (the Government controlled plans).
The Government should acknowledge that the fees approved for July 1, 2017 were properly tabled and the adoption of these ‘option fees’ are outside of the approved reimbursement rates process. Additionally, it should be expressly stated that the payment of this expenditure is not setting a precedent especially as the Government has indicated that there will be additional expenditure of $2.6 million which will require the tabling a supplementary estimate for 2017/18.
In April 2018, Government would normally introduce new fees and new services, I would hope the Government would not revert to the pre-June 2017 fee rates and continue with the cost/utilization review which does not affect patient care but rather is designed to make the system more effective and patient centered.
The OBA Government was working towards a full conversion of SHB (Standard Health Benefit) fee schedule to RVU (Relative Value Unit) methodology which would result in equity across BHB and community settings for the same services having started with lab and diagnostic services. It is essential that this continues if the cost of health is to decrease with the corresponding decrease in premiums. Bermudians need some financial relief in their pocketbooks.
The statement by the Premier announcing former Minister DeSilva’s resignation leaves a lot of unanswered questions. What was the conflict of interest between Mr DeSilva and Dr Brown? All Members of Parliament are required to declare any material interest in Government business, when was this conflict known? Regardless of what the reason is for the resignation of Mr DeSilva the people of Bermuda need to be assured that this will not lead to an increase in the cost of healthcare in Bermuda. The Bermudian people deserve to know what the reasons are for Mr DeSilva’s resignation.