|UNITED FRONT: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, centre|
together with party members wave UNC flags during their meeting
on Monday night at Pepper Sauce Junction, Chaguanas.
—Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY
Government will not only be providing free medication to people who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart problems but also plans to move further to pick up patients’ bills at the doctor’s office through a new health card programme.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the announcement on Monday at a UNC public meeting at Pepper Sauce Junction, Chaguanas.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan told the Express yesterday that the first phase of the health card programme will be rolled out in three months and will target 60,000 people who are currently on the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP).
Khan said the ministry has been working on this initiative for a while and has put measures in place to ensure there is no abuse of the health card.
He said the card will be limited to a number of services that can be accessed and justification must be provided for any increase.
The Prime Minister said the health card will provide a faster method of accessing health services.
This, she said, will also ensure that there is a register of all patients accessing the health service and will ensure that people who access health care are prioritised and treated in a more efficient way across the country.
Persad-Bissessar said the programme will begin in pharmacies, extend to medical labs and also to doctors’ offices, where the electronic card will be scanned and health conditions, medication needs, refill cycles and current treatment will be immediately available.
“What’s more, through this phase one of the health card system, the need for money to pay for medications required to treat chronic conditions will be eliminated,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said the programme will be implemented by mid- January 2014.
She said further that this initiative was not a brainchild of the People’s National Movement (PNM) but was conceptualised under the UNC government from 1995-2001 under former health minister Dr Hamza Rafeeq.
“No longer will you have to pay at the doctor’s office, the Government will take that bill up for you, putting more money into your pockets to spend on your children, to prepare for their future, to spend on your home and to improve your quality of life,” said Persad-Bissessar.