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National Coalition for Health Care Reform Sees Major Problems From the Effects of a National Health Insurance Plan as Proposed
Related to country: Bahamas

Tempers Flare Over NHI:

By Rogan M. Smith -
Nassau, Bahamas:

The national address by Minister of Health Dr. Bernard Nottage on Wednesday night has apparently had no affect on members of the National Coalition for Health Care Reform, who continued to express concerns on Thursday about the government’s plan to implement a national health insurance plan.

Leaders of the Coalition continued to call the plan "over-ambitious"

While appearing on the More 94.9 talk show "Real Talk Live" with Jeff Lloyd, Chairman of the Coalition Dr. Robin Roberts said what is being promised in the proposed NHI scheme cannot possibly be delivered.

Appearing with him were Dr. Duane Sands and Winston Rolle, the Coalition’s consultant.

Dr. Roberts said for the past several months the government has vilified anyone opposed to its plan.

"I will not engage in a debate with my boss and minister [Dr. Bernard Nottage] and any other minister that would suggest that we Bahamians who love our people and want to serve our people…that we’d stand here and let them die," he said.

"[We won’t allow them to believe] that the government wants to implement this great plan for them and we doctors want to prevent it from happening because we’re greedy and we simply want money."

Dr. Roberts said if the country makes careful, calculated steps it can be a model for other countries of what a good healthcare system could be.

"This diving into the deep water – we can tell you exactly what is going to happen before it happens because it’s happened so many times before," he said.

Dr. Sands said the Coalition foresees major problems arising.

"We see the train is about to leave the tracks. We see financial disaster looming and as stewards for our country, we cannot allow that to happen," he said.

"Once we understand that we can make incremental, but real improvements in the quality of care so that our people realize that utopia doesn’t exist, then we are prepared to make improvements, but there will never ever be a perfect world."

During the show, Health Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage, phoned in to express his disappointment in the show’s guests for blasting the plan publicly.

Dr. Nottage said the government simply wants to transform the delivery of healthcare in the Bahamas. He invited Dr. Roberts and Dr. Sands to get on board and help the government make NHI a reality.

He said the business of healthcare is challenging to every country, and the Bahamas is no exception.

Dr Nottage said he respects and values the opinions of Dr. Roberts and Dr. Sands and said he is open to having further discussions with them, as there are still a number of issues that must be clarified.

However, he said he was dissatisfied with the manner in which they chose to air their frustrations.

"For them to come on the show in public and say that there has been no consultation, I am very disappointed to hear that – extremely disappointed. We had retreats, as Dr. Sands said; they participated in the retreats and they gave their ideas in the retreats, but a decision has to be made by the policymakers of the country," he said.

"We’ve tried at all stages to try to accommodate whatever suggestions we get from whichever direction, so long as they are consistent with what we regard as being in the best interest of the people of the Bahamas and that is all we’re seeking to do."

During the show, government ministers, Fred Mitchell and Allyson Maynard-Gibson, also phoned in to voice their support to the plan, saying the bill before parliament is merely proposed framework legislation that requires the support of the medical profession if it is to succeed.

But Dr. Roberts said the Coalition still needs to see actuarial studies and timelines before giving its full support. He said to date there has been no substantive consultation with the medical profession.

During the show, several callers phoned in demanding that the health insurance proposal be put to referendum for the Bahamian people to decide whether they want it.

November 24, 2006 | 3:38 PM Comments  {num} comments

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