In focus this time was the recently introduced $60 service fee that they claimed is being charged to members of the public accessing the emergency services at the Joseph N France General Hospital, which is the country’s main health care facility.
The opposition has therefore issued a campaign promise, that if elected after the next general elections, they would remove the fee. They are making the argument that “The consequence of the charge as high as $60, is to prevent poor people from accessing emergency care at the hospital.”
Member of the coalition, which the opposition refers to as “Team Unity”, Shawn Richards, the Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement, PAM, lashed out at the government’s new policy, saying that it was introduced without any announcement to the public. He has since been supported by the Leader of the People’s Labour Party, PLP, and the member tipped to lead a possible Team Unity Administration, Dr. Timothy Harris.
Speaking at Monday’s public meeting, Harris asked his supporters, “What if one of you were to get into an accident and you do not have $60, does it mean that the doctors will not touch you? What if your child takes in with epilepsy and you take them to the JNF Hospital and you do not have $60, is the heartless government asking the doctors not to care for you? This is wrong, it is deplorable. The Hon. Marcella Liburd would become the worst Minister of Health should such an exclusionary policy continue much longer. Where is the caring of the government?”
It has also been a commitment first espoused by PAM’s Deputy Leader, Eugene Hamilton and also a Team Unity member, that what is urgently needed is a comprehensive medical insurance program to help nationals, especially the poor, to better deal with the increasing cost of health care. This mantra has now been endorsed by the broader Unity Team which is now also promising to introduce comprehensive health care for all citizens.
In a recent statement, the opposition reminded that it was Eugene Hamilton, an insurance expert, who was instrumental in the conceptualization and implementation of civil servants health insurance program, and he has been assigned by Dr. Harris to lead this effort. Dr. Harris said comprehensive health insurance will be a critical element of their health for all policy. “We cannot allow our poor people and the middle class to suffer more pain, more shame and more indignity. This Douglas government does not care,” he argued.