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Burgess says medical fee cuts targeted Brown

Derek Burgess is shown after being appointed chairman of the Ageing Well Committee (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Derrick Burgess has claimed the “evidence was quite clear” that cuts to fees paid for medical services had targeted Dr Ewart Brown, the former premier.

Mr Burgess said: “Their intent was to shut down Dr Brown.”

The comment came during the motion to adjourn in the House of Assembly on Friday.

Lawrence Scott, Progressive Labour Party MP for Warwick South East, raised the subject in his speech made prior to Mr Burgess’s address.

Mr Burgess, a PLP MP and Deputy Speaker of the House, said that changes made to the fees paid for some medical services were “certainly targeted at Dr Brown and Bermuda Healthcare Services”.

He pointed to notification of the impending cut sent by the Bermuda Health Council last February to a number of insurance providers and the Bermuda Hospitals Board.

He said: “The only person, the only organisation, that these rates affected so much was Dr Brown.”

Mr Burgess said Dr Brown was not notified at the same time. He added: “In fact, he was notified two weeks before this went into place.”

The comments drew a point of order from Jeanne Atherden, Leader of the Opposition, who said that Mr Burgess was misleading the House.

Ms Atherden said: “The normal practice for the health council would be to notify anybody that is affected by their change.”

Mr Burgess said that the only two services that were “really affected” by the fee cuts were dialyses and diagnostic imaging.

He added: “It was only the hospital and Dr Brown that does both of these services.

“So it was targeted at him.”

The statements drew another point of order from Ms Atherden who again accused Mr Burgess of misleading the House.

She said: “At the same time the diagnostic imaging fees were adjusted, so were the lab fees.

“And there are many other providers out there who have lab services.

“So it wasn’t a target for the individual that he is referring to.”

Mr Burgess said plans for a new private medical centre in Hamilton were scrapped after the fee changes were announced.

He explained: “They cannot afford to operate at that price.”

Mr Burgess said that Dr Brown had been at the “forefront” in a campaign to cut healthcare costs in Bermuda.

The Brown-Darrell clinic in Smith’s closed the doors on its CT scanning services last month. Dr Brown blamed the closure on “severe reductions in payments”.