Govt consulting int’l firms on NHI
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 19, 2013
The government has completed talks with a Canadian-based healthcare company, which could advise it on implementing its proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) plan, Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez said.
The government has also completed talks with an international accounting firm, which could advise it on the cost to implement NHI.
“I have had discussions with a healthcare agency and I know that someone else has spoken to a private accounting firm with a view to the cost of NHI for The Bahamas,” Gomez recently told The Nassau Guardian.
“The accounting firm is an international firm, and the healthcare firm is a Canadian firm.
“The reason for that is we are modeling NHI on the Canadian system.”
He did not reveal the firms’ names.
Though a final decision has not been made to engage either firm, Gomez said, “We are just really waiting on something from them. The talks have already happened.”
In August, Gomez said he hoped to have an estimated cost for implementation of the plan in October.
He said recently the government is more likely to know the cost of implementing NHI in November.
“Costing has not started as yet, but it will be done,” Gomez said.
“...It is a fundamental part of the work, and we are just considering what is the quickest way to get it done, not just the cost, but the complete exercise.”
The former Christie administration said NHI could cost an estimated $235 million annually.
Gomez said the 12-person steering committee created to oversee NHI’s implementation has been working for about four months.
However, he admitted that the committee and government must “accelerate the pace”.
Dr. Delon Brennen, the Ministry of Health’s deputy chief medical officer, chairs the committee.
While on the campaign trail in the lead-up to the 2012 general election, Gomez said NHI would be implemented in the first year of the Christie administration.
The first Christie administration appointed a Blue Ribbon Commission in 2002 to look at the feasibility of creating NHI.
Gomez chaired the commission.
In 2006, Parliament passed the National Health Insurance Act, but the plan was never implemented.
Gomez has said his ministry will get international help for NHI’s groundwork.
The local branch of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has already given its assistance.