Sands: Fee changes coming to healthcare sector
As officials anticipate a $50 to $60 million deficit in the public health care sector this year, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that there has been over 500 suggested changes of fees within the sector, so that those who are able to pay can bear more of the costs for those who can’t.
“We have looked, ‘we’ meaning the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA), have been for over a year, engaged in looking at how the revenue of the hospital can be brought in line with the expenses of the hospital,” said Sands outside of Cabinet.
“So, there have been 500 or more suggested changes in the fee structure of the hospital.”
Sands said among those suggested changes were the storage fees for morticians who have agreed to accept remains for burial.
Last week, several funeral home directors threatened to stop moving bodies from Princess Margaret Hospital’s morgue following the implementation of special fees on Friday without proper notification.
The group of funeral directors staged a protest outside the morgue on Friday.
Sands said that he met with those morticians on Monday and as a result, it has been decided to hold off on the fees for 60 days, during which time everyone can understand what the planned changes will be.
“In the new year, the prime minister will announce to the public, some recommendations that my ministry has made to change the fee schedules completely,” Sands added.
“There will be a reduction or elimination in some fees and an increase in charges and other areas.”
Noting that the PHA lost $9 million in the first quarter of 2017 and anticipates a $50 million deficit in this fiscal year, and another $10 million or so across the public healthcare sector, Sands said the Bahamian people cannot sustain those expenses.
“We need to pay attention to the quality of care that we deliver and if we are going to provide good quality equipment, adequate technology, adequate human resources, staffing and otherwise, we need to have the funds to do it,” he said.
“I think we want to take a very progressive approach so that those who are able to pay, bear more of the cost for those that can’t pay.
“And so there will be a realignment of the charges and those will be rolled out to the public, hopefully so that ultimately the dignity and the well-being of the people of The Bahamas is improved.”
Sands added that he has reviewed the suggested fee changes and believes that there are some reasonable recommendations.
“It now has to be vetted, thoroughly, by the Cabinet of The Bahamas, and a strategic decision made,” he said.
“There are some instances where you don’t want to charge anything at all and there are instances where we can improve.”