The government campaign for Universal Healthcare is on a fast track to implementation, judging by the Health Minister's remarks to the Chamber of Commerce recently.
He confirmed that legislation is already under way and that the Blue Ribbon Plan must "not be delayed any longer. Business organizations and companies should be very responsive to feedback requests".
This sounds like both a threat and a promise.
We understand some members of the medical association have provided feedback, and perhaps other groups have done the same. Only they know how their recommendations have fared.
Since 2003 the Nassau Institute has published numerous articles on the economic effects of turning delivery of healthcare over to the government. They are on the Institute's Website www.nassauinstitute.org.
In April 2004 The Institute hosted two internationally known economists, specialists in healthcare economics. Drs. Michael Walker and John Goodman who spoke directly to the issue of Healthcare Reform for The Bahamas. Their presentations are also on the Nassau Institute website.
Notably neither the Health Minister nor any representative from the Ministry availed themselves of the opportunity for valuable feedback from these gentlemen in April 2004.
Our experience casts doubt on the sincerity of the latest request for feedback. More likely The Minister is expecting an endorsement of the Blue Ribbon Commission Report. Besides, there are probably a very few individuals sufficiently familiar with the nationalization process to know the right questions to ask.
Not being easily discouraged, The Nassau Institute has now in hand a comprehensive study entitled, An Analysis of the Blue Ribbon Commission's Proposals and an Examination of Alternate Policy Options. It raises the questions that must be answered, ones that are unlikely to be raised in a meeting such the one at The Chamber of Commerce. The report makes recommendations that will avoid negative consequences of escalating costs and the shortfall of funding, inevitable if The Blue Ribbon Plan is adopted.
The more than sixty page Report and Executive Summary will be available about mid July, after peer reviews are completed. For individuals who do not have time to read the full report, the Executive Summary and a Briefing Paper will be made available separately.
We hope for a serious discussion on a subject critical to individual healthcare needs and the health of the Bahamian economy in the years ahead.
Currently, the Bahamas has an opportunity to avoid the socialist-communist systems typical of most other countries. Bahamians have a right to be free to choose their physicians, and their incomes left alone so they can pay for the services they require.
We will soon know whether the Ministry of Health is honestly interested in feedback or whether the exercise is mostly a vote-getting political ploy leaving aside the economic health of the country for later.
The full Report and Summary will be made available to all interested persons. To reserve a copy call (242) 324 2035 or (242) 326 5728.
A pre-release summary is also available at Bahama Pundit