Senator Professor Sir Henry Fraser.
Senator Fraser on QEH funding solutions
THE $146 million allocated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital will not be enough to adequately ensure its smooth running, and government must look to other solutions, including the introduction of a health levy, or tax incentives, to address the financial challenges in the health sector.
So says Independent Senator, Professor Sir Henry Fraser, who stated that various options had to be considered to address the country’s main medical institution’s financial woes going forward.
“These include but are not limited to a health levy or healthcare contribution, and is often the name that pleases or displeases people...
“Our second option is to provide tax incentives for privately paid health care, so that central health care costs – either doctor visits, blood tests, other investigations, radiological tests – could be at least partly tax deductible,” he stated, while the Senate debated the Appropriations Bill yesterday.
“Since many people prefer private care to long lines at polyclinics, this would encourage far more people to use private care, and would reduce the load on the hospitals and the clinics, thereby allowing the government expenditure on those services to cater to those who really needed it,” he added.
Sir Henry pointed out that there could also be a token fee for service, like that which had been introduced in several OECS countries decades ago, “but this of course, might upset and offend our freeness mentality”, he added.
Noting that even the $185 million suggested by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party would not address the problems at the QEH, he said at least $200 million annually would be required.
According to him, the Martindales Road plant needed refurbishment and renovations, while insisting that it could be transformed into the medical centre of the Caribbean, gaining revenue from overseas clients seeking medical assistance. (JMB)