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Caribbean & World

Grenada signs US$1.5million contract with US healthcare company

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by Linda Straker

  • US$800,000 and US$1.5 million to complete process for implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) programme
  • Contract with Joint Independent Provider Association (JIPA) came into effect 29 October 2019
  • Introducing a National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Health Minister Nickolas Steele said that government is paying a USA-based firm between US$800,000 and US$1.5 million to complete the process for implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme.

The contract with the Miami-based Joint Independent Provider Association (JIPA) came into effect as of 29 October 2019 and builds on the work already started by The University of the West Indies and other stakeholders.

Grenada received US$653,916 from the United Nations Development me (UNDP) to establish the secretariat of the NHI and to undertake initial preparatory work. The decision of government to introduce a National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

JIPA Network as the private healthcare company is called, is headed by Grenadian-born and USA-trained neurologist, Dr Kester Need. He promises that the NHI plan will overhaul the system and sustainably address issues of cost and delivery of healthcare in Grenada.

Grenada’s Minister for Health believes that the contract with JIPA — which did not go through a procurement process according to data on the government’s procurement website — is a necessary step to overcoming many of the challenges that the healthcare system faces.

“If Grenadians can agree to JIPA’s team-based model, NHI will become a reality in the not too distant future, and as such, the challenges faced by a colonial system of care will finally be addressed, for present and future generations,” he said according to a news release from the Government Information Service (GIS).

The objectives of the NHI are:

  • To improve access to and affordability of healthcare services for all Grenadians;
  • To improve the healthcare system which would lead to a healthier and more productive Grenada;
  • To protect individuals and families from financial hardships that can result from healthcare expenses and
  • To provide for a more equitable and sustainable method of financing healthcare.

JIPA’s original proposal to government was of a five-year duration for implementation, adopting three different phases with phase one and two covering a 12-month period. However, Steele explained that the contract will be for a six to nine-month duration with different components. “All of this will be made known and better explained at the launch on 18 November,” Steele said.

Some of the expected outcomes of the contracts are:

  • Implement the NHI administrative structures
  • Development of Provider Contracts and contracting with providers
  • Training provided in key Human Resource areas essential for NHI.

The company will also

  • Develop policies, processes, regulations and institutional aspects
  • Support the enactment of NHI and related legislation and regulations
  • Introduce and facilitate the development of creative healthcare financing models
  • Work to implement the approved mechanisms for financing.

The JIPA Network will also develop value-based managed healthcare programmes for providers and consumers of healthcare and to work in a collaborative manner with payer stakeholders to promote a centrally governed administrative system that is efficient.

“Noting that better healthcare continues to be a national priority of the New National Party administration, the minister expressed government’s willingness and readiness to lend all the necessary support to JIPA in order to make NHI, which he referred to as the “great equaliser,” a reality, and deliver improved health services for all Grenadians, especially the many who cannot always afford to go abroad to have their healthcare needs met,” said the news release.

Over the next nine months, JIPA has pledged to continue extensive consultations, and work with all sectors and stakeholders in Grenada to develop and finalise the necessary benefits plans, funding models and administrative processes for the implementation of the NHI.

Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell has hailed this historic agreement with JIPA as a “game-changer for the healthcare system, given the many challenges faced by that system, throughout our history.” According to the Prime Minister, “healthcare is a right, and every Grenadian citizen needs to know that their right can be satisfied right here at home.”

The government release said that the signing of the contract with JIPA makes Grenada one of only a few developing nations around the world, and in the Caribbean, to introduce a sustainable brand of National Health Insurance to its citizens.

JIPA will “utilise a tested and proven model, which consolidates funding and organises healthcare providers and consumers into large groups, in which risks such as payment and care are shared across those groups. By doing so, better healthcare will be made much more affordable and accessible across all sectors of the Grenadian society.”

JIPA Network signed a similar contract with the BVI NHI in 2015 and in 2019 filed a lawsuit for breach of contract. Under the contract, the BVI NHI was to be provided with access to JIPA’s already established network of healthcare providers throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the United States.

The BVI NHI was to pay JIPA each time they utilised healthcare providers within the JIPA Network. According to court documents, JIPA is alleging that the BVI NHI has bypassed it and has used the companies within its network without paying JIPA the agreed fee.

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Caribbean & World

CIBC FirstCaribbean donates US$250,000 to regional Covid-19 fight

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Regional bank CIBC FirstCaribbean is moving to assist countries across the region to purchase much-needed Covid-19 testing kits.

The bank, through its charitable arm the FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation, will donate a total of US$250,000 toward the purchase of the kits in the countries across its regional footprint. The bank will make the donation through its various operating companies across the Caribbean.

Chief Executive Officer of the bank and Chair of the foundation, Colette Delaney, made the announcement noting, “testing was one of the main weapons in the arsenal against the spread of the disease.” She added, “community spread is one of the main ways the virus is transmitted and testing is key to identify, isolate and treat those affected and limit its spread.”

Delaney thanked the region’s “public health leadership, medical professionals and frontline workers and others involved in the essential work of keeping our communities safe and functioning during this very difficult time.”

The donation follows the bank’s recent announcements of a suite of relief assistance to eligible clients including:

  • 6-month payment moratoria on existing loans and mortgages.
  • Temporary revolving or working capital financing options for our Corporate Banking and Business Banking clients.
  • A special waiver of late payment fees and default interest to all eligible Retail, Business, Banking, Corporate Investment Banking and Wealth Management Clients effective for the 6 month moratorium period for existing loans and mortgages.
  • Credit cardholders automatically benefitting from a payment waiver for 3 months based on their current account standing.

Delaney noted, “Our response has been in the spirit of partnership that has always existed between the bank and the people of the region. This two-pronged approach has allowed us to not only contribute to the national response in each of the countries in which we operate, but to directly assist our clients who are affected.”

Delaney also noted that many of the bank’s staff are choosing to make personal donations to the various relief programmes in their islands across the Caribbean and thanked them for their generosity.

“Our employees are known for their calm and professional response, particularly in a crisis. We thank them for their generosity and commitment to continuing to provide service to our clients in these most unusual of circumstances.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean has a staff of approximately 3,000 across 16 Caribbean countries.

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Caribbean & World

Prime Minister’s National Address: 30 Mar 2020

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Press Conference – Prime Minister Dr. Rt. Hon Keith Mitchell

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Caribbean & World

Head of State requested to prepare Leader of Opposition instrument of appointment

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by Linda Straker

  • Clement is MP for constituency of St George North East
  • Resigned as a member of New National Party in 2019
  • Has spoken with Governor-General regarding instrument of appointment 

Tobias Clement, Member of Parliament for the constituency of St George North East, has confirmed that he has had a conversation with Governor-General Dame Cecile La Grenade requesting her to prepare the instrument of appointment that will make him the elected Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament.

“I requested the instrument be prepared and right now I am awaiting further instructions from her office,” Clement said on Monday. He is not certain if he will be able to take his oath of office before the mandatory 7-day curfew which officially starts at 7 pm today. “I am really hoping it can be done today.”

Clement, in December 2019, implied he would be taking up the post of Leader of Opposition after he resigned as a member of the ruling New National Party (NNP).

In both the 2013 and 2018 General Elections, the NNP won all 15 seats in the Lower House of Parliament and on both occasions, Clement opted to be a government backbencher. However, as of mid-2019, he began indicating during parliamentary sessions, that he would cross the floor.

As Leader of the Opposition, he will have the right to appoint 3 opposition senators in the Upper House of Parliament, have a functioning office at the Parliament Building and operate his constituency parliamentary office.

He said that his goal is to first receive his instrument of appointment and then focus on appointing his senators. “We will deal with the appointment of senators in the future, the focus now is receiving the instrument of appointment,” he said without explaining his decision to take up the post amid a Limited State of Emergency.

Grenada is presently under a 21-day Limited State of Emergency as part of its social distancing measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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