Work continues on NHI package
NASSAU, BAHAMAS -The National Health Insurance Authority’s (NHIA) top executive said yesterday there has been a ‘noticeable’ increase enrollment for the scheme post Dorian.
Graham Whitmarsh, the NHIA’s managing director told Eyewitness News Online that work on NHI continues with enrollment under the scheme increase at a 3-5 per cent pace per month.
“NHI is continuing pretty much unchanged from before,” Whitmarsh said.
“We continue to grow. We are over 65,000 beneficiaries now. We are still growing at 3-5 per cent per month. We have actually been enrolling a notable number of evacuees after the hurricane. There are persons identifying themselves as evacuees seeking to access primary care services. We are doing our best to enroll them, find them a physician and ensure that they have access to services.”
Whitmarsh continued: “We have continued the work on our quality programs. We are close now to 100 per cent compliance on the facilities inspections which we started a year ago and we are working towards the quality process for our laboratories. We have been continuing to work on the technology required to improve quality in the future.
“We are working to get the electronic health record implemented. On the potential policy and regulations side we have been working on the changes that would be required for legislation.
Whitmarsh added: “We have been working on the policy implications of our proposal in detail. There always was a tremendous amount of work to be done. We just carried on with it behind the scenes.”
Whitmarsh noted that the NHIA continues to refine the NHI package so that at some stage the government can move forward with it.
“We recognize that recovery takes priority and that it will be time consuming and expensive. That is a new reality but the need to move towards universal access to quality and affordable health services in the long run is not going to change. We continent to do the work on that, we continue to improve and expand. We just cut out the non-essential stuff recognizing that there is going to be budget pressure from the hurricane.”
He continued: “Improving the quality of services is important to us. Service is still available so people can come and enroll. We have out out some suggestions on changes to the policy and we continue to do the detailed work behind the scenes necessary to potentially implement that.
“We have been doing significant number of workshops and sessions. We had put out originally a 26 page policy paper on the details regarding implementation. I think we have somewhere in excess of a 300 page document now that we are working on.”
In a recent Eyewitness News interview, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said the Minnis administration has ‘not deviated’ in its support for National Health Insurance (NHI), although the ramping up of services under the scheme has been suspended and will likely be delayed even further due to Hurricane Dorian’s economic impact.
“NHI continues to provide primary care services to a sizable part of The Bahamas population, I think roughly 60,000 persons. The ramping up of services has been put in abeyance and I suspect will be further delayed given the serious blow to the country and economics of the country. We have not deviated in our support for, belief in or for the continued contribution to be made to The Bahamas by NHI,” said Sands.