Earned the right

Apart from the ongoing coronavirus-related crisis, recently-sworn-in Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Otmar Ottley has another pressing matter on his hands. In a letter addressed to him (see related story) the Pharmacy Association of St. Maarten (PAS) says its members plan to stop accepting medical insurance cards of SZV, OZR and FZOG for lack of payment as of Wednesday.Mind you, neither the problem nor the threat is new, and PAS said it had exercised patience also due to prior experience and considering the pandemic, counting on the goodwill of Social and Health Insurances SZV. However, after waiting all last week based on expectations reportedly created, the drugstores say they have reached the “breaking point” in holding off creditors and need an immediate solution for their “damaged financial liquidity.”Several of Minister Ottley’s predecessors and Finance Ministers have periodically faced and tackled similar issues, apparently without achieving a structural solution. It is beginning to sound like a broken record and unfair to persons who duly pay or paid their premiums.They should not have to worry about being covered, which particularly for people who depend on their medicine or other pharmaceutical products is unacceptable. One would hope an arrangement to at least address the immediate cashflow shortfall can still be worked out before the deadline now set so that especially the most vulnerable in terms of health do not have to suffer the consequences.Government needs to make available enough funds to provide coverage for which it is responsible, as employers must transfer the relevant premiums that they and their staff pay together every month. As the latter does not always seem to be the case, it is understandable why – for example – companies not up to date with taxes and social premiums fail to qualify for payroll support.Nevertheless, a long-term solution to ensure timely payment of healthcare providers appears called for, because it is not correct to constantly create concern and anxiety among residents who have earned the right to their medical insurance.