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Dunkley: Healthcare programme ‘another form of income tax’

Health Minister Zane DeSilva’s suggestion that the rich pay more for healthcare has drawn a sharp response from the One Bermuda Alliance, who speculate that Government is moving toward socialised medicine.

“It’s simply another form of income tax,” said Shadow Health Minister Michael Dunkley.

He said Mr DeSilva’s remarks “appeared to be an off the cuff comment, without a lot of thought or discussion within the healthcare profession”.

Mr DeSilva last week said that higher-income residents ought to accept higher premiums, if it ensured access for all to top-quality care.

It followed on the release of the National Health Plan, which promises Bermuda residents 100 percent access to essential healthcare by 2013.

“The plan lacks a lot of specifics, so it’s hard to comment on,” Senator Dunkley said. “But it’s not the first time we’ve heard of people who are rich paying more, and international business have come to Government saying they won’t support a policy such as this.”

Bermuda’s healthcare costs are projected to reach $1.5 billion by the year 2020 more than double the per-person cost in 2010 and one of the National Health Plan’s main goals has been to rein in spiralling medical expenses.

However, Sen Dunkley said: “If a policy of taxing the rich was put in place, it would be unsustainable.”

Calling it an impediment to Bermuda’s business image, he added: “Remember, international business do not need to be here. They’re very mobile and have expressed their concerns with recent payroll tax increases and term limit immigration policy.

“If there’s further added cost to being in Bermuda, they will take another look the viability and competitiveness of their business. If a policy such as this meant that more international business left our shores, then this means that the pool of insurance premiums is smaller, and the burden on all the people is made larger.”

The new Shadow Minister, who has recently taken over from former Shadow Kathy Michelmore, charged that the National Health Plan “lacks specifics”.

“One challenge we have with the National Health Plan is that while we applaud the idea, we have always been very concerned about its lack of substance on how the plan will actually be accomplished,” he said.

“For the Minister to come out and make these comments, I think, just fans the flames of a lack of confidence in our community in regards to the future economic growth on the Island. Instead of fanning the flames of pessimism, we need to bring hope and reassure people that there’s a future in Bermuda and we will come out of the mess we are in.”

Useful website: www.bhec.bm.

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Published November 14, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 14, 2011 at 9:17 am)

Dunkley: Healthcare programme ‘another form of income tax’

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