Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton announced that the only Peebles Hospital fee concern that he is prepared to take into consideration is that for non-belonger persons living here for less than 10 years.
Hon Skelton made the announcement in response to a supplementary question that was posed by Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser in the House of Assembly on 17 February.
Hon. Fraser in a supplementary questioned asked Minister Skelton if he was satisfied with the fees as they are now. In response, Hon. Skelton said: “It is not a matter of satisfaction, it is a matter of what is necessary for the Territory. The fees at the Health Services Authority is the lowest; we have done our investigation throughout the region; and we have brought those fees in way under where it should be.” “The only thing, I think can be tweaked is the fees for residents who are not here ten years and over, which I intend to have a discussion on.”
Hon. Skelton said that persons who are here over ten years are treated as Belongers and those who are not here over ten years are treated as visitors or residents without status: “So that is the only thing I think we need a discussion on,” the Health Minister added.
Prior to the questions and answer segment, the Minister in a statement to the House of Assembly on 12 February announced: “Madame Speaker, we have made concessions in the fee schedule for Residents, making those fees lower than the fees for Non-Residents and Visitors. This is not new. This is a standard practice that was already in place under the old Regulations, and is consistent with other jurisdictions. As a point of clarity Madame Speaker, for the purposes of the Regulations, the term ‘resident’ is not restricted to mean a person holding a Certificate of Residence, but applies to a person who is ordinarily resident in the Virgin Islands for ten years or more.”
He pointed out that data shows that more than 90 percent of non-residents and visitors accessing care at the various healthcare facilities pay for the services they need, and claim reimbursements from their insurance companies when they return to their countries of origin. “The approximately 10 percent uninsured that require non-emergency care are able to take advantage of the fee concessions created for them in their home countries,” the Minister noted.
Hon. Skelton also reminded that for the uninsured with an income, the Authority will create the most affordable payment plans. He added that Government will continue to subsidize uninsured seniors 65 years and over, persons in custody of the State, dependent children of residents, as well as persons of insufficient means.
“I must re-emphasize Madame Speaker, no one will be denied access to needed healthcare, and the Health Services Authority will create the most affordable payment plans for everyone…There is no need to fear. The new fee schedule is necessary to ensure a high standard of healthcare for everyone,” he said.