Left to right: Minister of Health Zane De Silva, Bermuda Health Council CEO and chair of the Financing and Reimbursing Task Group, Dr. Jennifer Attride-Stirling, and National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged acting manager and chair of the Long Term Care Task Group, John Payne. *Photo supplied
Left to right: Minister of Health Zane De Silva, Bermuda Health Council CEO and chair of the Financing and Reimbursing Task Group, Dr. Jennifer Attride-Stirling, and National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged acting manager and chair of the Long Term Care Task Group, John Payne. *Photo supplied

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20: Thank you for being here today for an exciting announcement regarding Bermuda’s National Health Plan – two exciting announcements actually!

First of all, is the news that the Consultation Feedback Report on the National Health Plan 2011 is complete and is being released today for public viewing…

Second, is that six Task Groups have now been formed that will develop policy options to implement the National Health Plan goals.

The Task Groups will make sure the process is transparent and that it includes the views of all stakeholders.

A lot of people – both within Government and outside – have worked incredibly hard to ensure this progress could be made…it has really been ‘all hands on deck’ since the National Health Plan Consultation Paper was released in February.

Although I live and breathe it every day, I can appreciate that some of you might be a bit ‘rusty’ on the principles of the National Health Plan.

So let me pause briefly to give you a quick summary of the National Health Plan before I move on to the specifics of today’s two announcements.

Simply put, the purpose of the National Health Plan is to reset the founding values of our health system.  We want to make sure that quality healthcare can be affordable and accessible to all residents.  And we want to ensure we have a health system befitting of 21st century Bermuda.

The reforms are based on the core values of equity and sustainability.  These address the long-standing concerns with the escalating cost of healthcare, and the inequitable burden placed on too many individuals and families.

The Plan set out eleven goals to bring about improvements in access, quality and efficiency in our health system.

The National Health Plan proposes that we provide universal access to basic health coverage for all residents, that coverage be affordable, and that it include not just hospitalization, but primary care and prevention as well.

Of course we knew when we released the consultation paper that it was a work in progress.

Now, what do I mean by that?

Since February we have sought feedback on the National Health Plan Consultation Paper from stakeholders and the public.

The Consultation Feedback Report that we are releasing today is a summary and analysis of the feedback received.

The purpose of the feedback report is to summarize the consultation process, the feedback received, and to outline the next step for the National Health Plan strategic reform process.

In total 100 written responses were received from across the community including:

• 2 opposition political parties

• 2 unions

• 3 private health insurers

• 6 charities and public advocacy groups

• 11 health professionals

• 36 members of the public

• and 40 employers and business advocacy groups (both local and international).

The volume of feedback was certainly very encouraging.

I am pleased to report that overall, there was broad support for the core value of sustainability and for reform efforts to contain the increase in healthcare costs.

Feedback on equity was more varied.  There was strong support, but concerns were also raised by some of our stakeholders.

Overall, however, there was support for making health coverage available to everyone.

The goal of universal coverage was largely supported; and there were many varied suggestions and ideas on how this might be achieved.

There was also a great deal of interest in the financial analysis and modeling necessary to determine the impact of the reforms on the economy, employers and individuals.

Overall, the feedback offered us the reassurance that there was very strong support for universal access to healthcare, and enhancing the basic package.

I believe that this reflects the caring nature of the Bermudian community, and our instinct to truly be our brother’s keeper.

Going forward, the feedback will result in some revisions to the National Health Plan.  While the direction for reform remains the same, there were some great recommendations to be included in the Plan.

Also, in light of the concerns raised about proportional contributions, this concept will be reviewed by the Task Group responsible for Finance and Reimbursement.

The NHP document will be updated to reflect the feedback where possible, ensuring alignment with the Government’s policy objectives…and I look forward to sharing that revised document with you in the coming weeks.

The feedback report (which can be found on both the Ministry of Health and Bermuda Health Council websites), and the revised National Health Plan will provide the Task Groups with a foundation on which to build as they develop options for implementing the Plan’s goals.

This leads me on nicely to our second announcement…the formation of Task Groups.

As I said previously, the purpose of the Task Groups is to develop policy options to implement the Health Plan goals.

Therefore the Task Group members will serve as consultative groups to provide their knowledge and expertise in the development of the policy options.

A Chair has been appointed for each Task Group to ensure leadership and coordination in the process.

These Task Groups are comprised of representatives from stakeholder groups across our community including: 

• Government;

• the business and insurance sectors;

• healthcare professionals; and

• public and patient advocates.

We have tried to keep the size of each Task Group manageable, so they range from eight to 13 people.

Task Group membership was chosen to ensure that

all stakeholder groups were represented;

that each individual member has a keen interest and expertise in Bermuda’s health care system; and

that each member is both willing and able to commit their time and knowledge to improve our healthcare system.

Currently there are six Task Groups and a Steering Committee.

Each Task Group will address a specific goal or set of goals, and the Steering Committee will provide oversight and coordination to ensure the Task Groups are working in tandem.

Specifically the Task Groups established are:

• Financing and Reimbursement

• Benefit Design

• Health IT

• Long Term Care

• Health Promotion and Prevention

• Overseas Care

The suggested deadline for each Task Group to deliver options is dependent on their particular goal.

Some will be longer, and some have started already.  But all of them will be working hard to ensure the Health Plan becomes a reality.

The Task Groups are now ready to go…and the Health Financing Summit in November will be the official kick-off for the next phase of the National Health Plan.

In closing, I would like to say that I am overjoyed at the progress that has been made regarding the National Health Plan; and that I am looking forward to living in a Bermuda where healthcare is regarded as a right endowed equally on every resident.

Thank You.