PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - It is very disconcerting when blatant untruth is published to instill fear into the community in order to get political mileage.
It is one thing to make empty promises of grandeur and bling to the people during election time in order to try to get votes but fear mongering is going too far. Case in point is the article regarding the new St. Maarten General Hospital published recently by some media, coming from the Vice President of the UPP.
When reading the article it is clear that whomever drafted this article did not know the facts or purposely chose to misconstrue and misinform the general public. The true and correct facts will dispel what is being claimed. I leave it up to you the reader to discern the truth from myth and come to your own conclusion.
It is true that SMMC has been losing money mainly because the tariffs the SMMC charges have not been adjusted to keep pace with the cost of providing the medical services and the unpaid services to undocumented at the health care institution. Notwithstanding this situation the SMMC has not received subsidy from government for over 10 years.
This has put the SMMC in a difficult financial position that was resolved partly by adjusting the budget and tariffs but also by expanding the services being provided. To be specific services that have to be provided are those for which thousands of patients are being sent abroad to receive treatment.
An average of 26 -30 million guilders is spent each year on medical referrals abroad by the SZV, this does not include medical referral by private insurers. Expanding the hospital and its services will result in less patients being sent abroad and being treated closer to home, at least 40-50% of what is spent abroad will be redirected to the local economy. Ultimately this will result in an improved quality of health care for the citizen of St. Maarten and a better management of the health care cost in general.
In order to make this a reality the Tripartite Committee has been established where Government, SMMC and the SZV take part and work together to find balanced solutions for the issues of the SMMC. Based on the concerted effort by the Tripartite participants we have tackled the prevailing issues such as new tariff structure, care demand, proposed partnership with regional medical care facilities abroad, telemedicine solutions, cooperation with the French side hospital, new general hospital and the transparent bidding process for the build, finance and maintenance solution for the new hospital.
In coming up with solutions not only did we look at what has to be done from the health care perspective but also what has to be done on the income side of both the hospital as well as the SZV. Instead of going for the easy solution of increasing premiums it was chosen to work on the compliance side regarding the registration of businesses and collection of premiums. The SZV has taken steps to increase compliance by delinquent businesses and we already are seeing the fruits of the steps taken with an increase of contributions collected in comparison to the previous years of at least 20%. In this way we prevent having to increase of premiums.
Work is also being done to make and implement health reform policies in order to expand the insurance coverage to those uninsured groups and measures to manage health care expenses better by eliminating waste.
As to medical tourism solutions that others imply that they had or have to increase the client base for health care in St. Maarten, the following. Why would St. Maarten entertain groups that profess they can bring medical tourism to St. Maarten while expecting that St. Maarten has to put up all the financing to build facilities for these groups to rent for a limited time while not bringing any equity to the table. So they will reap the profits but St. Maarten has to make all investments.
In a report based on a research of a team of British researchers led by the University of York of 2013 Dr. Neil Lunt says “Our message is: be wary of being dazzled by the lure of global health markets, and of chasing markets that do not exist.”
By having a larger modern hospital locally owned and managed we can attract qualified specialist as well as other specialism that presently are not being offered, but are highly necessary, in such way making it possible that our population of St. Maarten/St. Martin as well to our neighboring islands can get improved health care service.
You are urged not be fooled by fairy tales and too good to be true stories. Solutions to solve our problems have to be pragmatic and do not have to take into consideration self-interest and nefarious agenda’s.
Democratic Party Candidate # 7