Ozzie signs off on medical welfare cases

| 14/03/2016 | 40 Comments
Cayman News Service

Osbourne Bodden, Minister of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports

(CNS): Public Accounts Committee members were shocked to learn Friday that the law requires the community affairs minister to sign off on all cases of people who need medical care but do not have health insurance or are under-insured. Osbourne Bodden is currently the minister holding the cheque book over who does and does not get cover for medical attention. As the members questioned staff at the Needs Assessment Unit, the ministry of community affairs and the director of CINICO, the direct involvement of the minister in this process was revealed, causing two major causes for concern.

Both PAC Chair Ezzard Miller and member Winston Connolly were shocked to learn that the law gives the power to a political leader rather than someone from the executive or administrative side of government to make the decision based on clear policy direction. The PAC members were concerned that one minister was signing off on expenditure from another minister’s budget and that it was a requirement for a politician to make a decision about an individual’s medical care.

Staff from the NAU and the ministry explained that the decisions are made based on recommendations from civil servants. However, it is handled by the community affairs ministry because when the legislation covering medical indigents was written, it was the minister with responsibility for family services that was given the power to decide who was deserving of temporary medical assistance as there is no cap on the amount that can be expended on a local patient in need of medical treatment either here or overseas.

The issue was also described as overly bureaucratic. The process begins with a patient at the hospital who is in need of care but has no insurance. They are referred to a social worker there who, if it is not an emergency, sends them to the NAU. That unit makes a means assessment before it is passed back to social workers from the health ministry to assess the applicant’s medical need. The case then goes back to community affairs to make the recommendations and then pass that to the minister to make the final decision and sign off.

Connolly said he was “very alarmed” that “the minister is the person controlling all this”. From a governance perspective, he said, “it is very scary as he controls the purse strings”. The George Town MLA said he was not suggesting that the current minister was doing anything wrong but he was very worried that, even after all of the technocrats involved had made their assessments and recommendations, the minister could still say yes or no. “That’s an extraordinary alarm bell,” he said.

The ministry staff confirmed this was the only decision the minister makes and that all other welfare assistance funded by the taxpayer, such as rental, school lunches, food vouchers and utility bill payments, are assessed by social workers and given on an as-needed basis.

“But any decision made just by a minister is wrong,” said Connolly. “When politicians are in charge of a wallet, that’s where government gets scary. If you have someone with the wrong motives, they can use the system. We are setting ourselves up for risk,” he added.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (40)

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  1. Sharkey says:

    This sounds like the Auditor General needs to be doing audit every day to keep these ministers and different departments of government straight, it looks like he can’t make it run too long .

  2. Anonymous says:

    The man is doing what the law says he is supposed to do. Why are the lawmakers pretending to be surprised about what’s in the laws they passed? Same applies to all the legal immunities that were made into law. None of this is new to anyone who was paying attention to the public’s business, but actually knowing what you are voting on is apparently too boring and inconvenient.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh please Winston. You sat in the Education & Labour Ministry as Counsellor and did nothing. Now you move out and all you can do is blow hot air and criticize. What are the solutions. Oh I forgot you can only come up with solutions when you get re elected and get a Minister position. Then you can do exactly what you are criticizing these Ministers of doing. One term wonder I hope.

  4. Ppm vs Udp same dog puppy says:

    Once again the PPM are demonstrating how similar they are to the UDP. If they are so concerned with transparency and good governance why have they not fixed this glaring issue?

    • Marathon says:

      Looks like they’re fixing it now. So many bullshit procedures put in place by previous governments, so much to fix………..

  5. Anonymous says:

    If there is a difference in the approvals and approvals rates for “true” Caymanians and “Driftwood” then this could get very very messy indeed.

    • Anonymous says:

      And expensive once the lawsuits start.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually they would depend on whether the driftwood Caymanians are really Caymanians (in fact many may not be) or if they lied on their status applications ( hiding a medical condition or claiming insurance that never existed) but I take your point.

      • Anonymous says:

        Everyday Caymankind racism-lite.

        • Anonymous says:

          No. There is a difference between believing you are a Caymanian, a Ministry believing you to be Caymanian, and being a Caymanian. What part of that do you not understand. Do you think that just because someone says “I am Caymanian” that they are?

          • Jotnar says:

            I think it was the inference or presumption in the absence of any evidence that people would lie on their status applications that got the poster upset. As for your point, one would rather hope that whilst there is a difference between someone thinking they are a Caymanian and being one as a matter of law, there shouldn’t be any difference between what the Ministry believes and what the true position is, given that the Ministry can easily check the Immigration status. If of course that they bother to check

            • Anonymous says:

              Regrettably immigration has no accurate record of who is Caymanian and so the idea of a simple check, whilst noble, is in all likelihood a fallacy.

              • Anonymous says:

                Still nothing excuses the basic racism underlying those with Ossie’s “your driftwood” mentality.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Driftwood (as you keep referring to newer Caymanians as – I prefer as the proper description Caymanians) can only become Caymanian under our laws if they have sufficient assets to maintain themselves and their dependents and comply with Cayman law which includes them having local health insurance. It some circumstances persons will fall on hard times. They should be supported – but the Caymanian public (who with all residents ultimately foot the bill) do deserve to know why so many newer Caymanians are deemingly unable to support themselves and their dependents, and have no health insurance.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Winston needs to wake up. This is customer and practice in Cayman.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Any paper Caymanian denied assistance could legitimately challenge the rejection on the basis of bias given the well publicised discriminatory attitude of the Minister who holds the administrative decision making role given that he views people differently based upon their national origin rather than their current status.

  8. Anonymous says:

    With each year and each stone unturned, the Islands appear to be going backwards.

  9. Dr Mugabe says:

    Hmm healthcare for wotes Third world.

  10. McCarron McLaughlin says:

    Sounds like a death panel. So government decides who lives or dies now. Democide in cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you want to pay enough income tax to give everyone all the medical treatment that might possibly help them?

  11. Knot S Smart says:

    Poor Lil Ozzie…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Tell us again how the Queen in London is hurting Caymanians?? People wake up that is a ‘Trump-like’ distraction to fuel hatred while the MLAs DO HAVE POWER and other arms of government but by telling the lie that the UK is at fault we can’t hold them accountable.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This guy (and several others) need to be removed from office, stripped of honourable titles, and barred from politics.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wake up you crazy individual. From what I understand Ozzie had nothing to do with the current legislation. He just happen to be the Minister responsible for the subject at this time. If it was Ezzard who has some medical experience the principal would still be wrong in law. A minister should not be signing off on such matters. XXXX What about the amount of power that the chief officers and Deputy Governor has over the lives of civil servants. Perhaps the auditor general should look in to that as well and share that with the public.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nowhere is it written that he is legislated to play God. It was his choice to insert himself into the mechanism and play that role, and because (we all know) he’s the king of his fiefdom, nobody has stopped or questioned his involvement – happens all around the CIG in almost every department. *&$#%@! “Driftwood” Caymanians have been reassigned for speaking out on less!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Flippin’ wonderland we live in… let me out, please let me out of these loony bin islands! – Caymanian

  15. Anonymous says:

    How is someone with NO medical training or knowledge able to make such decisions. Absolutely appalling and once again there are no checks and balances in place to insure that the right people get the right coverage they need. But once again surprise…surprise

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s true, but you can’t say he is not well trained in cow cod therapy

    • Anonymous says:

      The Health Ministry’s Chief Officer has no formal medical raining or knowledge either…….

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians thought they had improved their representatives over the last few years by electing lawyers and other well educated politicians. What a disappointment! With all these ‘high calibre’ men and women, a highly paid Government legal advisor, not to mention the civil servants who draft laws and assist with law making, our laws are failing our people. This is only one instance, but added to the recent discovery of the provisions in several laws exempting civil and public servants from liability it raising serious concerns about the competency of your leaders.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I could think of no-one less deserving of that power.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Curry favor.

  18. Anonymous says:

    No cover, eh? Driftwood, eh? …

  19. Anonymous says:

    Considering his track record giving Ozzie a sensitive job like ‘community affairs minister’ was never the smartest move.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ask how many families have received assistance who are able to actually afford it! A minister should not have control over this as it could be viewed as vote-buying. Why is it that PPM supporters condone everything that the PPM does but would cry corruption it it were McKeeva? So much double standard in this country and so much corruption. Can’t people see that Caymanians are being eased out of jobs only to turn around and receive a pitiful assistance? Wake up people!

  21. Anonymous says:

    What a f%#@ing mess this island is in!! PPM/ UDP tomatoes/tomatoes!!

  22. A. Piece O'Driftwood says:

    Will Minister Ossie or has he approved care for Driftwood Caymanians is the real question?

  23. Anonymous says:

    It is law for everyone to have health insurance save in exceptional circumstances. Who is checking, and in appropriate circumstances, who is prosecuting?

    Answer: No one.

    And we wonder why we are short of money and have such a high cost of living here.

    • frangipani says:

      I also question who is checking the real needs of the recipients of the free benefits that are being doled out. Just yesterday I listened to someone who is on free medical, getting meals and all the Government benefits including half of his light bill being paid. While the individual is at retirement age and is ill and not able to work, has anyone checked into the properties ( income earning a house and a block of apartments on the water) that this person holds outright which are being rented out and earning him an income?, plus the house he is living in. This information was also shared with me by the individual..

      Why are we (the populace and the Government) sitting by and allowing this to happen? I agree that there are some genuine needs in Cayman, but not everyone on the dole is deserving of this because they have a means of income. What are the politicians thinking about? It was a highly esteemed politician that advised this particular person to go to Government for help!!! do the politicians not have the grey matter to understand that the country can’t carry on like this?

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