“The payment of in excess of $1.2 million of taxpayers money to the ‘good doctor’ should be a major concern to all taxpayers,” Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier said today, adding that “it is Robin Hood in reverse.”
In January of this year, the Government confirmed [PDF] they “granted financial supplements to the Brown-Darrell Clinic, Bermuda Health Care Services and the Bermuda Hospitals Board in order to help ensure CT and MRI services are readily available to the public.”
Saying it was to “offset the drastic fee cuts of June 2017,” the Government said that “actual payments will be based on services provided, therefore the exact amounts for the period of operation will not be known until the end of the fiscal year.
“If the level of services remained the same as last year, Brown Darrell and Bermuda Health Care Services would receive approximately $778 thousand and BHB $1.8 million,” the Government said in January of this year.
Two of the three providers receiving payments, Brown Darrell and BHCS, are operated by Dr Ewart Brown, who previously noted ”there was court action pending,” while the Health Ministry previously confirmed “that a letter before action was received in relation to the fee levels.”
In providing updated figures this week, the Ministry of Health said, “Brown Darrell was paid $139,161 for the period June 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018. Bermuda HealthCare Services was paid $680,966 for period June 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018.
“Further payments will cover April 1, 2018 – October 31, 2018 and any outstanding [if any] claims for period June 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018. It is estimated that Bermuda HealthCare Services MRI payments for 1 April to 31 October 2018 may be approximately $420,000.
“To date the Government has settled $1.8 million with BHB to off-set against a BHB debt to the Superannuation Fund. This covers the period 1st June 2017 to 31st March 2018. Subsequent payments are still being adjudicated so the amounts are not yet known, but are projected at approximately $600,000.
“All payments are based on actual utilization so the total paid will be confirmed after the 2018 fees take effect on 1st November 2018,” the Ministry added.
In approximate terms, that is around a total of $3.6 million, with $1.2 million to Brown Darrell and BHCS, with $820,000 already having been paid and $420,000 projected, while the $2.4 million to the Bermuda Hospitals Board encompasses a $1.8 million off-set against a BHB debt to the Superannuation Fund, and subsequent payments projected at $600,000.
Craig Cannonier’s Comments
Mr. Cannonier said, “The question is, what is the priority of this PLP Government? Is it the welfare of the Bermudian people or the obesity of Dr. Ewart Brown’s pocket? The answer is in their actions. The payment of in excess of $1.2 million of taxpayers’ money to the ‘good doctor’ should be a major concern to all taxpayers. It is Robin Hood in reverse.
“With healthcare already at sky high levels – despite pledges by the PLP to bring them down – how is what amounts to subsidizing a private sector provider, going to lower those costs for Mr and Mrs Bermuda? How is this going to help those who have to make a choice between paying health care costs, rent or food.
“This Government says it cares about people, but it appears to care about certain people more than others. Perhaps this represents paying the piper? To repay someone you owe is an honourable thing if you do it with your own money, but if it is with taxpayers’ money that is another matter.
“It is one thing to raise taxes – and this Government has been good at that – in order to eliminate the Government deficit, however, this Government has increased those taxes only to lavish it on someone who claims already to be very wealthy.
“What about those seniors on fixed incomes with high healthcare expenses, Bermudians who are struggling to make ends meet and those small business about to be hit by the Sugar Tax or tax on dividends.
“The OBA government raised taxes on the wealthy and International Business while the PLP has raised taxes on Mr and Mrs Bermuda instead. What happened to all the rhetoric of ‘Two Bermudas’?”
Document released by the Government earlier this year about scan compensation [PDF here]
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