- The following statement was released by One Bermuda Alliance Leader Craig Cannonier.
Today (June 1) Government will, in effect, go into the health care business. It has been a rushed process and its consequences were not thought through.
Why rushed? There were only a few weeks separating the introduction of the Health Insurance Amendment Act – which changes the way health care has been funded for decades – in the House and its date to come into effect.
Insurance companies all complained about a lack of proper consultation and there were a couple of public meetings – one of which was held at a non-politically neutral location.
The result has been confusion among Bermudians about what is happening, why, and its impact on them and their wallets.
In addition, the subject of a $65m fund as back-up should the Bermuda Hospitals Board spend its full $330m grant was only introduced the night before this legislation was debated in the House.
It meant there were many unanswered questions, for instance – how is this $65m going to be funded?
Given that the latest BHB report from 2013/14 has only just been tabled in the House how do we know if the right checks and balances are being applied?
Will we be told how pricing is being calculated? How will we know if all the $330m is being apportioned to healthcare in a cost-efficient way?
For an issue as important and as complex as health care, the rush in passing this legislation looks like an attempt to railroad something through and never mind the consequences. Bermudians have every right to be angry about these tactics.
Just because Government has a large majority, it does not mean they can ride roughshod over the people. That is supremely arrogant.
One of the consequences of rushing legislation is that its implications are not fully considered and whatever Government says – whatever the reasons – people are not seeing health care premiums going down.
This affects those in the private sector much more than the civil service and contradicts the PLP’s promise to lower the cost of living, let alone their promise to reduce health care costs.
As a result, yet another burden is being added to the increasing woes of businesses and Bermudians.
On top of things like the Sugar Tax, the dividend tax and the increased land tax, banks are passing on the cost of the increased charges that were levied by Government in the last Budget and charges are now being passed to Bermudians paying their tax with a credit card.
At the same time, there is no sign of Government reigning in its spending and while Fintech may eventually produce jobs, it is not doing so any time soon and in the kind of numbers we need – and there appears to be no Plan B.
That leads into the other issues here: the need for more people on the Island to increase the pool of people to spread the cost of health care.
Despite the Immigration Reform Group’s report being tabled almost 18 months ago, Government is yet again asking for feedback and engaging in even more consultation.
They are clearly all at sea over this and cannot reach a solution that satisfies different factions within Cabinet and the Party. We are on course to spend $1bn a year on health care – which will be shared between fewer, and older, people unless the population is increased.
The figure $1bn is staggering for a population of some 60,000 Why are we heading there? It’s largely due to overutilization of medical services – a crucial issue which this Government has done nothing to address.
I feel that we are approaching a tipping point, with our future uncertain as the burdens being placed on Bermudians increase. I am very concerned for my country.