Min Lee approved budget financing for SMMC

No new national decree on new tariffs for SMMC issued

Minister Lee on Friday afternoon January  12th met with the Sint Maarten Consumer Coalition coordinators to address their concerns with the Sint Maarten Medical Center tariff increase of 41.8% per January 1 2018 and the quality of the services of the institution.

Minister Lee informed the coordinators that the precarious financial situation of the Medical Center had his attention since he became Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor. The deficits of the SMMC were increasing annually and the annual costs of health care also were going up each year. To guarantee financial stability for SMMC so that salaries and necessary medical supplies could be paid and bankruptcy could be avoided, the Minister explained that he approved for SZV to provide the SMMC with budget financing from the ZV-fund. Pre-financing the services for ZV patients was the way to facilitate the SMMC day to day financial obligations. The Minister had not signed a national decree for new social health care tariffs at the Medical Center. Concerning private health insurances they do not have a regulated tariff by law and the SMMC is within their rights as a healthcare provider to negotiate the rates with the private insurance companies.

Addressing the concern of the Consumer Coalition about the services of the SMMC and their quality, the Minister informed about three policies he has given priority.
1. For a more structural solution for quality services of SMMC he has been busy negotiating for financing for the construction of a new hospital for Sint Maarten. 2. At the same time he requested the SMMC to guarantee that staff and personnel of SMMC will be able to provide a higher quality of care and services by getting JCI accredited within the same time frame as it will take the new hospital to be build. 3. To realize a more equal treatment for all the Minister explained that he has given priority to the process of developing a national health insurance to guarantee that every citizen in Sint Maarten could be covered for a basic package of health care.

The Consumer Coalition representatives Alberto Bute, Raymond Jessurun, Claire Elshot and their office manager Carl Duinkerk expressed their concern with the general increase in premiums foreseen with the introduction of the NHI and considered the increase in tariffs of the SMMC of concern for the increase of the premiums. The Consumer Coalition is therefore happy with the dialogue started with management of the medical center to keep the premiums for the insured affordable and to look for other financing to cover the cost of quality services at the medical center.

Because of time constraints a list of questions were left with the Minister to answer the Consumer Coalition. The Minister promised to answer these. The Meeting was held in his capacity as caretaker minister, but the Minister promised to continue to be transparent after he will be officially sworn in as Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor in the new Council of Ministers.

The Consumer Coalition coordinators will await the answers to their questions to have a follow up meeting with the Minister. This week we will have a meeting with a Mixed committee of representatives of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA) and the Social and Health Insurances (SZV) to get more details on the tripartite agreement  between VSA, SZV and SMMC on the tariff increase of the SMMC. The Consumer Coalition wants to make sure that in the process to establish a national decree to change the SMMC tariffs the effects  on the premiums of the Consumers will be minimized by looking for alternative financing for the necessary increase of health care costs.

For the Seniors and pensioners, the workers and their families in Sint Maarten as Heath care consumers it is important for the Consumer Coalition coordinators to defend their right to an accessible, affordable, quality of healthcare in equal to out better than the highest one in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The consumer coalition is extra watchful especially in low a time like this, after Irma and Maria with loss of income, roofs, social security etc of many consumers who we represent.we cannot permit to sacrifice them once more in the process, especially not in an election year.

To address the impact of an SMMC tariff increase on the premiums a meeting with the private insurance companies and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been requested, but no meeting dates have been fixed yet.