Wilson questioned over health plan
Bermuda's health minister was questioned yesterday on whether the Government had misled the public on the scope of public consultation on healthcare reforms.
Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, pointed to a town hall meeting in Sandys this month to discuss the Bermuda Health Plan 2020.
Kim Wilson announced in August that the plan was to replace the Standard Health Benefit coverage for all island residents.
Mr Pearman said that Ms Wilson had told people at the meeting that the Government had already decided to proceed with the reform and that public consultation was limited to the benefits that would be included in the new plan.
He told the House: “Given the expressed statement that you made in Somerset, would you agree it is misleading to suggest to this House that you have begun a consultation on any other ways to ensure affordable healthcare for all?”
Ms Wilson responded: “Absolutely not.”
She told MPs that the consultation period was twofold.
Ms Wilson said that the first part of the period was to “ascertain from the public the nature of the benefits to be included”.
She said part two would outline the road map to transition from the current “disjointed, ineffective” plan to the new scheme.
Ms Wilson reiterated that a “soft launch” of the new plan was expected next autumn.
But Mr Pearman pressed: “If the only scope of the consultation are various permutations of your single option, that is not a full and proper consultation, is it?”
He added: “What would you say to members of the public who don't want your basic plan at all?”
Ms Wilson said that the Government had been elected to provide “for the basic human right of affordable healthcare”.
She added: “And that is exactly what we are going to do.”
The exchange came during Question Period after Ms Wilson made a ministerial statement to provide an update on the public consultation process.
She said: “We have begun a period of public consultation, during which we are speaking to stakeholders and the public on how we can ensure all of Bermuda's residents can have affordable access to healthcare.”
She told MPs that a “decent package that is affordable and available to all is fundamental”.
Ms Wilson added: “To do this, we have to change the way we pay for healthcare.”
She said that the Government's decision to adopt a unified finance model had been made “following extensive considerations”.
Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, questioned what other similar jurisdictions had adopted the unified model, and what if any analysis had been done by the Government to gauge its success elsewhere.
He also asked when the cost of the BHP would be firmed up.
Ms Wilson pointed to the Bahamas, where she believed the model had been launched “within the last several months”.
She added: “I'm not even sure it's a year old.”
Ms Wilson said that the cost would be based on public feedback on what benefits they wanted included. She explained: “The more benefits that are offered, the more expensive the plan.
“So until we have an opportunity to gauge the public's sentiment as to what benefits will be included, we can't cost anything.”