Senators row over medical scan fee cuts
A war of words broke out in the Senate yesterday over cuts in fees for MRI and CT medical scans.
Andrew Simons of the One Bermuda Alliance said Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, had lied when she claimed the OBA ignored technical recommendations when fees for the procedures were slashed.
Jason Hayward, of the Progressive Labour Party, said Mr Simons did not back up his allegation.
Mr Hayward said: “When you make a statement so bold as to say someone lied, you should then state the facts.”
Last year, the Bermuda Health Council reduced the fees that could be charged for MRI and CT scans by 87 per cent.
Ewart Brown, the former premier and owner of the Brown-Darrell Clinic, said the fee cuts would force the clinic to end CT scanning services.
Dr Brown claimed the move was part of a “sustained attack” on him.
The Ministry of Health said that the previous OBA administration's cut in fees was “significantly” larger than the technical recommendation.
The ministry also said a grant was established to compensate for the change, with the Brown-Darrell Clinic and Bermuda Healthcare Services expected to receive about $778,000.
Mr Simons said: “The Minister of Health's statement that her predecessor ignored a technical recommendation when setting fees is patently false.
“That claim is false, and it's important to point that out because ministers come and go and rely on technical staff to provide information.”
Mr Simons, a former member of the Bermuda Health Council, also questioned the decision to give the clinic a grant.
He said: “It's a huge number. I still cannot figure out the mechanism by which money can be paid to a private business, really without justification.”
Mr Hayward hit back that the fee change seemed focused on only Dr Brown and the hospital.
He said: “The hospital has also made complaints regarding the rates being set so low and not enough to cover costs.
“The Bermuda Government made a decision not just to compensate Dr Brown, but also the Bermuda Hospitals Board.
“The Bermuda Government in the next financial period will give the hospital an additional $25 million — funds for the healthcare of our seniors, our youth and persons in need of healthcare services.”
Mr Hayward said $25 million had been removed from the BHB budget by the previous administration but Mr Simons claimed that the BHB had unused savings when the cut was made.
Mr Hayward replied: “We wouldn't be providing the hospital with an additional $25 million if it was not needed.
“The hospital has been very public about their financial situation.”