Minister Emil Lee on going forward

Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Emil Lee


PHILIPSBURG – In Wednesday’s, January 4, Press Briefing, Minister of Health Emil Lee wished everyone a Happy New Year, introduced members of his cabinet, and briefly outlined the Health Ministry’s plan on moving forward.

He’s proud of the cabinet that’s been put together. “I think the synergies are good, the educational backgrounds are complementary.”

According to him, now that, “we’re looking at this as a stable government, we’re looking at a 4-year term, which changes our perspective. We’re really trying to get into root causes and details, and things that we haven’t had an opportunity in the past to really focus on, so we are going to have department head meetings. The department is going through personnel issues, financial issues, but also policy issues. There are all types of strategic points, but again with the law.”

He also mentioned that National Health Insurance (NHI) draft legislation was prepared. However, “the legislation needs more work, and it needs more time for discussion with stakeholders. There’s a number of serious misconceptions within the community, and rushing the process would only be detrimental to the image and goal of providing health insurance to everybody in St. Maarten.”

In addition, a keynote speaker has been invited to help the Ministry with advice on the NHS Policy. They will also to be a moderator for stakeholder sessions. Those stakeholder sessions are scheduled to begin the week of January 22.

He said, too, that meetings have been arranged with the Council of Ministers, with Members of Parliament and with all stakeholders within the community to get feedback, but also to sensitize the public and stakeholders as to some of the issues that are really surrounding National Health Insurance.

“High quality health care is as an obvious goal, but the question becomes how do you make it financially sustainable, and in that process of making it financially sustainable there’s many choices that need to be made along the way,” he concluded.

When asked about the issues with building the new hospital, he said that in previous discussions with the Dutch government, they expressed a willingness to consider financing, however, it did not mean that they’ve agreed to finance. That was dependent on a number of factors including developing another business plan, given the ongoing court case, where the possibility is that the hospital will be a much more expensive hospital, which will translate into higher tariffs that translates into higher premiums for the people.  Which translates into a modified business plan a modified business plan was based on what we felt was a very practical and affordable hospital.