Bermuda Budget Briefs
Seniors are in desperate need of dental coverage and it should be included in the Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP), Shadow Seniors Minister Louise Jackson said last Wednesday.HIP does not cover dental care, she said, but the Island's 6,000 plus seniors need regular dental visits not only to prevent tooth decay, but possibly the onslaught of other diseases as well - even, perhaps, Alzheimer's.Mrs. Jackson also also called on Government to pass legislation targeting elderly abuse.While she and Health Minister Patrice Minors agreed "home care is the way to go" when caring for senior relatives, the situation is not always easy.Stress can build up in families who have taken on the burden of caring for relatives and this can lead to physical, mental or financial abuse. With the cost of living for seniors in Bermuda 380 percent higher than in the US, she called on Government to do more for the Island's elderly."Seniors are not going to lie down and die," she told MPs. "We are going to be proactive, out there, in your face until you do something about it."The $1,000 HIP coverage for prescriptions each year is not nearly enough for many, she added, suggesting the Bermuda Health Consortium redirect some of the subsidy for children towards seniors instead.Health Minister Patrice Minors said Financial Assistance provides up to $1,500 monthly to families caring for senior relatives. There is also day-care available, which costs far less than residential care, she noted.•Dental insurance is not covered for the elderly by insurers because it is classified as a savings plan and not as iunsurance, according to Argus Group vice president Patricia Burke.For medical insurance, all premiums are placed in a general pool, from which money is extracted for those who need it for unexpected medical issues.Dental coverage, on the other hand, is something almost everyone uses; hence insurance companies view it as more of a "savings plan".
Dunkley questions need for PR firmThe public should hear about any issues at the hospital "straight from the horse's mouth" as opposed to messages crafted by a public relations firm, Shadow Health Minister Michael Dunkley said last week.He said top management at the hospital should deliver information to the public themselves rather than using the services of Troncossi Public Relations, the public relations firm employed under contract by the Bermuda Hospitals Board.BHB Chairman Jonathan Brewin told
The Royal Gazette that the hospital spends about $100,000 per year on public relations work."As I said when I was first appointed chairman, proactive communications is an important role to ensure transparency in the running of our hospitals," he said. "As healthcare providers, our areas of expertise lie in patient care. So it made sense to appoint communications professionals to help us deliver the hospitals message to all our stakeholders on a regular basis."Elizabeth Tee, managing director, Troncossi Public Relations said a public relations plan is necessary for any organisation. "Whether the PR pro is in-house or hired by a consultancy does not make a great deal of difference as long as the organisation is communicating," she said.
Homeless report done"The Homeless Report" is complete and a submission to Cabinet is being finalised on the issue, Health Minister Patrice Minors told Parliamentarians.Homelessness in Bermuda is a "multifaceted" issue, she said, with service providers warning that "many within the community are one pay cheque away from a housing crisis.""The Homeless Report" showed the challenges facing those with "no fixed abode" on the Island included housing affordability, as well as problems such as substance abuse, disabilities or mental illnesses.Government has pledged $1.2 million towards homelessness relief, she said.
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