PM Christie: Gov’t and Opposition Must Work Together on National Health Insurance

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Prime Minister Perry Christie closing National Health Insurance debate in the House of Assembly on Monday, August 15, 2016. Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, seated, looks on. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)
Prime Minister Perry Christie closing National Health Insurance debate in the House of Assembly on Monday, August 15, 2016. Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, seated, looks on. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie said, on August 15, 2016, that the both sides of the Political Divide in the House of Assembly must devise a way together to introduce what is being done in the National Health Insurance initiative, transitioning hope for Bahamians with health problems, as well as the entire country.

“We have taken an approach to this where we want to involve the Opposition in this matter,” Prime Minister Christie said during his Communication on the National Health Insurance Bill 2016 [Short Title], in the House of Assembly.

“Why would you fight something that a great majority of the people of this country have already declared they want?” he asked.

In terms of cost, Prime Minister Christie said that the Government has decided to go to a global bid for a public health insurer.

“That means that the Government, on behalf of the people on this country, will make an intervention in the area of insurance — a public health insurer,” he said. “It is only intended to cover primary health care — that is what we are dealing with — not to compete against the other interventions of the private insurance companies, most certainly at this stage.”

He added that in that global bid, private insurance companies in The Bahamas would be eligible to bid because the Government will have the selected group to manage the public insurer. However, the public insurer is not going to allow pre-existing illnesses or advanced age as reasons to disallow coverage.

“It is going to be there to protect the interest of those Bahamians who have been disallowed insurance,” Prime Minister Christie said.

He also noted that it would be at stabilized prices.

Prime Minister Christie agreed that The Bahamas’ being an archipelagic country is one of the greatest challenges that the plan must address. He said that the Government must now work on addressing infrastructural health-care concerns throughout The Bahamas, inclusive of dealing with issues at various clinics and facilities, including Exuma and Abaco.

Prime Minister Christie stated that one of the obligations he has, as the Minister of Finance, is to be able to guide the country as effectively as possible, when it comes to expenditure.

“Health is expensive,” Prime Minister Christie said.

“We have to come to grips with the reality that we are introducing National Health Insurance: that we are going to begin in the school system — at the beginning of school — a comprehensive physical fitness thrust, all under healthy lifestyles; that we are encouraging the [Seventh-Day] Adventists in the private sector, who are getting more and more involved in programmes that deal with it, to get involved with their programmes because this [NHI] must be a national programme,” he noted.

Prime Minister Christie went further and said that the Government recognizes in the schools that children are affected by behavioral diseases and something must be done about that.

For the first time, he said, the Government has made a decision to take all the “bits and pieces” and put it under one command, one structure, to bring in a maximum return on the money spent, to rationalize the expenditure, and to put in place the officers and the personnel.

He pointed out that it is a work in progress.

“And all of my colleagues who have the responsibility must know they are accountable to get it done,” Prime Minister Christie said.

He said that they must not compromise on that, and spoke to those Bahamians who have the carriage and the responsibility to make NHI happen.

“The people of this county will have their lives dramatically and positively influenced for the better by what you are going to be bringing about by end of this year, beginning of next year, in this country,” Prime Minister Christie stated,

“We must not fail to recognize that it represents a ‘new day’ in the delivery of health services and healthcare in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”