Minister denies treatment of clinic was discriminatory
The Minister of Health has denied allegations of discrimination over which healthcare providers can be included under the standard healthcare benefit in advance of a protest today.
Patients of the Hamilton Medical Centre are expected to protest this morning against “discriminatory policies” over which healthcare providers are included in the SHB list.
The demonstration is scheduled to begin on Wesley Street before moving to Cabinet Grounds.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said she was unable to provide a substantive comment on the situation because the matter was under court-ordered reconsideration by the Bermuda Health Council.
But she added that the BHeC, not the Ministry of Health, was responsible for reviews of Standard Health Benefit approval, and SHB approval was not guaranteed for any medical businesses on the island.
“It is deeply regretful that allegations of discrimination have entered the conversation when there a number of businesses that have been approved or denied SHB over the last few years,” Ms Wilson said.
“The businesses denied SHB continue to deliver care for our community, and they are black-and-white businesses.
“Not having SHB does not stop a business from operating or providing services.”
The conflict arose after the BHeC denied a 2019 application by J J Soares for permission for the Hamilton Medical Centre on Burnaby Street to offer services under the SHB — which would allow FutureCare or HIP patients coverage for diagnostic services.
But the BHeC refused the application because it said it was concerned that the clinic would “self-refer” patients and provide unnecessary treatments.
Dr Soares appealed that decision in the Supreme Court the following year.
Ms Wilson said: “The Supreme Court granted Dr Soares’ SHB, so, at present, Dr Soares is operating with SHB approval.
“However, the Bermuda Health Council appealed that decision, and the Court of Appeal granted the health council’s application against the Supreme Court decision, directing that the health council conduct another review of Dr Soares’ application.
“It is my understanding that reconsideration is pending.”