PM expands NIB drug plan to public servants
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has announced a major expansion of the National Prescription Drug Plan, which will now also cover the entire public service and all people classified as indigent.
“And the poor of The Bahamas know that while I am in office they have a friend they know that,”said Ingraham yesterday in the House of Assembly while wrapping up debate on the two resolutions facilitating the sale of 51 percent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC).
“I never tire of saying it. There is no possibility, there is no possibility with the greatest of respect to Perry Gladstone Christie, there is no possibility of him understanding us(the poor)like me. That’s not possible. That is not possible.
“He can have feelings for us. He can empathize with us. He has never been there(in poverty), don’t know that. I been there. I know that.”
Ingraham said he will sign the letter instructing the National Insurance Board(NIB)to expand the drug plan either yesterday or today.
The drug plan was implemented in 2010. In the first phase of the program, prescriptions are provided free of charge to NIB pensioners, NIB invalids, Bahamian citizens over 65 years of age who are not eligible to receive an NIB pension and children under 18 years of age, or under 25 years if full-time students.
The list of ailments covered under phase one of the plan include arthritis, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, high cholesterol, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, major depression, prostate cancer and psychosis.
Ingraham explained that the expansion of coverage to the public service also includes police officers, prison officers, employees of the industrial schools and defence force personnel.
The announcement of the expansion of the drug plan was made close to the next general election. Opposition members heckled the prime minister, suggesting that the decision was made to pull votes to the Free National Movement(FNM).
“No, they don’t need to vote for me,”said Ingraham.
The prime minister said he wants the poor to be able to access their medicine with dignity.
The government has not yet disclosed the cost of the expansion of the drug plan.