Health Authority likely to charge for newborn services; promises less reliance on government

The original article can be found in: BVI News Online

In an effort to reduce its reliance on the public’s purse, the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) said it is contemplating the likelihood of charging for newborn services and some others that are currently free of cost.

The statutory body, which manages public health facilities such as Peebles Hospital, said it receives an annual subvention of $23.1 million from the government, and would ultimately like to start receiving less.

The Authority however said its annual operational cost is nearly $34 million; meaning that it has to raise funds to cover the roughly $11 million shortfall.

Speaking with journalists on Monday, Chief Executive Officer at the Authority Darlene Carty Baptiste said: “Our overarching task is to decrease our total dependence on the government’s subvention… Things that we have been doing in the past haven’t worked.”

As a result of those ‘things’ that haven’t worked, Carty Baptiste said the authority is owed millions of dollars for services offered to patients over the years. It is also having difficulties sourcing things like medication because it is unable to make timely payments to suppliers.

With those and other factors in mind, the BVI Health Services Authority said it would need more money to cover the ballooning costs of healthcare.

It is still awaiting cabinet’s decision on its recent request for an increase in healthcare fees, but the Authority has made it clear that – if granted – those increases would still not be enough.

In order to collect more, Carty Baptiste on Monday disclosed that the Authority is also considering the proposed introduction of new fees for things that are now free of charge.

“There are some services that we have provided that we have never billed for before. So we are looking at those services and see where we can capture revenues from that,” she further told journalists.

“Our Director of Hospital Services brought to the table that we have never charged for newborn care… So that is one area that we are now implementing.”

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