Last week the Bermudian public witnessed what happens when politics gets in the way of common sense.
The One Bermuda Alliance thought they had a perfect instrument to embarrass the PLP Government, when someone in the Dental Industry told them that GEHI employees were showing up in a TEST BF&M Insurance system as “Inactive”.
I highlight the word ‘test’ for a reason, as it is very important that everyone is aware that the system that the OBA were getting their information from was in fact a TEST system and not a live system currently in use by health care professionals.
I don’t think that anyone will dispute that the main reason for the OBA to launch its attack, which was proven false, was that the OBA wanted to embarrass the PLP Government. They wanted to push one of their talking points by stating “the PLP Government doesn’t pay its bills”.
The Opposition was salivating at the chance to catch the Government with its proverbial pants down; the problem is that they didn’t have their facts correct.
The OBA said they “raised the matter in good conscience”, but does anyone really believe that the GEHI Members were their main focus?
Their main focus was to launch an attack to embarrass the government. Unfortunately for them, the attack backfired because they took rumour and innuendo and published it as fact.
A week later the Bermudian public is clear on the facts:
• On July 8, OBA said, “Dental insurance coverage for Government employees has been suspended”. On July 10, BF&M confirmed that GEHI Dental Coverage was never suspended;
• On July 8, OBA said, “Government fell more than 90 days behind in premium payments“. On July 10, BF&M confirmed that the Government was not in arrears;
• On July 8, the OBA said, “The portal (was) used to provide dentists with patient insurance coverage information “. On July 10, BF&M confirmed that the system the OBA referred to was a test system not scheduled to go live until Aug 1, 2012.
Even when confronted with these facts, the OBA continued to defend its actions in releasing a statement claiming that GEHI dental coverage was suspended when the facts prove otherwise.
It would be okay if this is where the saga ended. However, what happened after Government flatly rejected the OBA’s falsehoods was one of the most egregious cases of using people’s private information for political gain.
On July 9, a day after the original OBA false attack, the OBA solicited private health insurance coverage information from a health care provider and leaked it to the media!
The OBA leaked this information, obtained from the TEST BF&M system, to the media to attempt to prove their point. The problem is on the same day that information was printed in the local media, BF&M released a statement completely contradicting the OBA claims and reminding everyone that this was in fact a TEST system, and there was no lapse in coverage.
After that shocking piece of bad judgement on the part of the OBA, there were statements from the BPSU raising concerns about private information being used for political gain.
There was a call in the House of Assembly for an investigation as to how private coverage information found its way into the hands of Senator Michael Dunkley and then the media.
And there is also the question of whether any laws were broken in the dissemination of this private information.
One week after the OBA launched their false attack, they still refuse to say that they were wrong.
They have refused to apologise to civil servants for the false alarm and confusion they caused.
They have refused to apologise to the BPSU for using their member’s confidential information for political gain. They have refused to apologise to the Government for falsely stating that it was 90 days in arrears in payment.
And they have refused to apologise to the Bermudian people for making claims that were not based on fact.
The leader of the Opposition, Craig Cannonier released a statement titled, ‘There is no need to Apologise’ while Senator Tony Daniels released a statement saying titled, ‘We did our Job’. I guess I missed the memo where it was the Opposition’s job to put out false statements, and when they are proven to be false, fail to have the decency to apologise.
The One Bermuda Alliance can continue to buy their own myth that they were right on this one, but Bermudians know that they were wrong to make the accusation based on rumour, wrong to use people’s personal information and wrong to not apologise.
Going forward, everyone will need to question whether they can they trust that the accusations that the OBA are making, are not simply unconfirmed rumours masquerading as fact.
That is up for the Bermudian people to decide, however after this episode, Bermudians cannot be blamed for not trusting the OBA, especially when they refuse to own up to the fact that they were wrong.
• David Burt is a PLP Senator and Junior Minster for Finance and Environment Planning and Infrastructure Strategy.