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Hospital fee increase approved by House

The House of Assembly has approved a 1.5 percent increase in hospital fees, intended to help battle rising operating costs.

Debating the Bermuda Hospitals Board (Hospital Fees) Regulations 2011 on Friday night, Health Minister Zane DeSilva said that the increase would lead to $3.6 million in revenue over the next year, but expenses were forecast to rise by $11.2 million.

The fee increase is expected to come into place on April 1.

By limiting the fee increase, the Ministry hopes to minimalise the increase in the basic medical insurance rate, which is set to increase by 6.8 percent.

“The Bermuda Hospitals Board has been working hard to put cost saving measures in place,” the Minister said.

“We have worked very hard with the board to find ways of cutting that figure.”

Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson called the across the board increase “palatable”, saying that she hoped other related fee increases would be similarly small.

“I'm hoping that when we hear the FutureCare health increases they will also be along these lines,” she said.

Grant Gibbons of the United Bermuda Party asked what was being done to save money. He questioned whether consultants and salaries are being reduced. He noted that consultants Kurron have already been cancelled and the things are “heading in a better direction than a year ago”, but asked what else was being done.

He also raised concerns about certain fees contained in the list, including $233 for a visit from a hospitalist and $94 for a visit from your regular doctor. He accused the hospital of charging at “Manhattan rates”.

His party colleague John Barritt said the pledged 1.5 percent fee increase may be “keeping a promise” but “there's no delivery yet”.

He called for regular reports on what's going on at the hospital, preferably every quarter, so MPs can assess how the cost-cutting efforts are going.

Mr DeSilva said costs were being cut through tightening procurement procedures and cutting consultants.

“They've done a good job. I think we have good value out of our consultants,” he said.

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Published March 21, 2011 at 10:14 am (Updated March 21, 2011 at 10:13 am)

Hospital fee increase approved by House

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