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Category Archives: Bahamas

COVID-19 Status – The Bahamas

Posted: February 4, 2021 at 6:58 pm

Yes. All persons travelling to The Bahamas, and those travelling inter-island from Nassau & Paradise Island or Grand Bahama Island, must first obtain a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (swab) test taken no more than five (5) days prior to the date of arrival. The name and address of the lab where the test was performed must be clearly displayed on the test result.

Persons travelling inter-islandfrom Nassau & Paradise Island or Grand Bahama Islandto other islands are required to undergo a RT-PCR test no more thanfive (5) days prior to travel and produce a negative result.

If a Bahamas citizen or resident travels internationally, they must secure a test in the destination they visited before travelling back to The Bahamas. Any RT-PCR test taken in The Bahamas prior to travel will not be valid for re-entry.

Contact your health care professional to receive a COVID-19 RT-PCR Test.

No, only a negative RT-PCR (swab) test from a referenced lab will be considered a VALID test to be granted entry into The Bahamas.

All visitors entering The Bahamas will be required to opt in to the Health Insurance coverage when applying for their Bahamas Health Visa (more details on Bahamas Health Visa below).

Coverage includes:

The cost of the required COVID Health Insurance is included in the Bahamas Health Visa and paid in advance of travel.

All travellers, returning citizens and residents arriving via commercial flights, as well as by private planes, private boats, yachts or pleasure craft, are required to apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa attravel.gov.bsby selecting the International option and completing all required fields.

Yes, all those travelling inter-island both residents and visitors will be required to complete an electronic Travel Health Visa, via the domestic or international sections, as appropriate.

Yes, there is anon-refundablefee for the Bahamas Travel Health Visa, which will be dependent on length of stay.

All Bahamas Travel Health Visas include standard administrative costs, such as the application fee for the Health Visa, as well as relative IT and distribution costs.

The final price of an individual Bahamas Travel Health Visa for visitors, returning citizens and residents is dependent on length of stay and any applicable testing, healthcare related costs, or insurance requirements. (More details on rapid testing below)

Domestic Travel (within The Bahamas):

International Travel:

Each applicant eighteen (18) years of age or older, will be required to complete their own Bahamas Travel Health Visa Application and upload their individual negative test results. Persons seventeen (17) years and younger are to add a profile within the account of the parent or guardian. Please ensure each application is submitted with the corresponding test results.

Travellers should upload ALL pages of the test results report, even if there are multiple pages.

Please ensure your test results state clearly the following information:

For U.S. travellers, an accredited lab can be found athttps://www.cdc.gov/clia/LabSearch.html

For travellers from other countries, labs that have been accredited by the local medical health officials should be used.

Children age ten (10) and under are exemptfrom requiring a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test; they will, however, be required to have their application submitted by a parent/guardian.

Bahamas Travel Health Visa applications take up to48hoursto process so they should be completed with adequate lead time.

Applicants will receive an automated responsewithin 1 hourof submission indicating the application is being processed. Travellers should not apply again unless they do not receive the automated response within the hour.

An approved Bahamas Travel Health Visa will receive a green code, and proof of confirmation should be presented at check-in and upon arrival in the destination.

If a Bahamas Travel Health Visa application is pending, visitor will receive a yellow code which means it requires additional review.

If a Bahamas Travel Health Visa application is denied, visitor will receive a red color code and will not be permitted entry to The Bahamas.

Travellers shouldnotsubmit more than one application per person travelling (per trip). Do NOT submit multiple applications.

For all questions regarding the Bahamas Travel Health Visa process, or to check on the status of your application, contacthealthvisa@bahamas.com.

There are a number of reasons why Bahamas Travel Health Visa applications are not approved. Among the most common are:

Yes, please ensure you print your Approved (Green) Bahamas Travel Health Visa response issued electronically by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and the Bahamas Ministry of Health.

Travellers who fail to complete an electronic Travel Health Visa application form or provide a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR Negative (Swab) Test from an accredited lab will be denied entry to The Bahamas and are subject to fines and possible imprisonment.

Bahamas Travel Health Visas are valid for the duration of each individual travellers trip. Because a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result is required to be uploaded to complete the Bahamas Travel Health Visa application with test date no more than five (5) days prior to the date of arrival, it is necessary for all travellers to apply for a new Health Visa with each trip.

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COVID-19 Status - The Bahamas

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The Bahamas Maps & Facts – World Atlas

Posted: at 6:58 pm

Covering an area of 13,878 sq. km, The Bahamas (all coral in origin) occupies larger part of Lucayan Archipelago and comprises a group of nearly 700 (atolls) ring-like coral islands, and (cays) small, low islands composed largely of coral or sand. The islands were mostly created by the disintegration of coral reefs and seashells, and low scrub covers much of their surfaces. As observed on the map, the highest point is located on Cat Island, where limestone rock rises to 63m (206ft) above sea level. There are a handful of small freshwater lakes and just one small river located on Andros Island.

The Bahamas (officially, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas) is divided into 31 districts. In alphabetical order, the districts are: Acklins, Berry Islands, Bimini, Black Point (Exuma), Cat Island, Central Abaco, Central Andros, Central Eleuthera, City of Freeport (Grand Bahama), Crooked Island, East Grand Bahama, Exuma, Grand Cay (Abaco), Harbour Island (Eleuthera), Hope Town (Abaco), Inagua, Long Island, Mangrove Cay (Andros), Mayaguana, Moores Island (Abaco), North Abaco, North Andros, North Eleuthera, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, South Abaco, South Andros, South Eleuthera, Spanish wells (Eleuthera) and West Grand Bahama.

Covering an area of 13,878 sq. km, The Bahamas occupies larger part of Lucayan Archipelago and comprises a group of 700 ring-like coral islands, islets and cays. Located on the island of New Providence is, Nassau the capital and the largest city of The Bahamas. Nassau is a primate city, a busy sea port and a major administrative, educational, economic and commercial center of the country. Its spectacular scenery attracts tourists from all over the world.

The Bahamas is an archipelagic country comprising over 700 coral islands, islets and cays situated in the northwest of West Indies in West Atlantic Ocean. The Bahamas is positioned both in the Northern and Western hemispheres of the Earth. It is located to the southeast of the US State of Florida; to the east of Florida Keys; to the northwest of Turks and Caicos Islands; and to the north of Cuba and the Hispaniola Islands shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Bahamas shares its maritime borders with the US, Cuba, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Regional Maps: Map of North America

This page was last updated on November 11, 2020

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What’s New In The Islands Of The Bahamas In February – PRNewswire

Posted: at 6:58 pm

The Bahamas appeals to travelers looking for warm winter getaways and romantic Valentine's Day escapes.

Bahamian Hotels Provide On-Site COVID Testing Hotels across Nassau Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands are providing on-site COVID testing for guests in accordance with new U.S. international travel requirements. Baha Mar, Atlantis and The Ocean Club are just a few of the hotels and resorts with on-site testing on Nassau Paradise Island along with Out Island hotels, including Caerula Mar Resort and Abaco Beach Resort. For a full list of COVID testing sites and the latest travel and entry protocols, visit Bahamas.com/TravelUpdates.

SLS and Rosewood Baha Mar to Reopen March 2021 Baha Mar will enter into its final phase of reopening on March 4 with the reopening of Rosewood and SLS. The Nassau resort first welcomed back guests at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in December 2020.

Harbour Island's Rock House Hotel Launches Villa Rock House Hotel on Harbour Island has launched its Rock House Rental Villa, a private vacation home with all the amenities of a hotel. While the hotel and restaurant remain closed, up to 20 guests can enjoy the fully staffed private villa that comes with a private chef and concierge to take care of guests' every need. Booking is available on Vrbo.

Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course Reopens With the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort's reopening on February 24, golfers can once again enjoy the award-winning Greg Norman course. Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course is frequently recognized as one of the most scenic courses in the Caribbean, with 18 holes set against The Exumas' famous turquoise waters and white-sand beaches.

Breezes Bahamas Welcomes Back Guests with Be Smart + Safe Initiative Upon its reopening in December 2020, Breezes Bahamas has safely welcomed guests with its Be Smart + Safe initiative. The initiative provides guests and team members with protocols on social distancing, face coverings and more.

PROMOTIONS AND OFFERS

For a complete, up-to-date listing of deals and packages for The Bahamas, visit http://www.bahamas.com/deals-packages.

Atlantis Couples Getaway Package Couples can plan a romantic Bahamian getaway at Atlantis this Valentine's Day. Celebrate with your partner while receiving daily complimentary breakfast, a quiet dinner for two, and late checkout.

Cape Santa Maria Beach Lovers Vacation Escape to Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort on Long Island for a romantic retreat. Relax with a complimentary massage, welcome cocktails and more when staying three nights or more.

Breezes Bahamas Winter Sale Breezes Bahamas is offering guests savings up to 53% for travel booked by February 28, 2021 as part of its Winter Sale.

ABOUT THE BAHAMASWith over 700 islands and cays and 16 unique island destinations, The Bahamas lies just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, offering an easy fly away escape that transportstravelersaway from their everyday. The Islands of The Bahamas have world-class fishing, diving, boating and thousands of miles of the earth's most spectacular water and beaches waiting for families, couples and adventurers. Explore all the islands have to offer atwww.bahamas.comor on Facebook, YouTubeorInstagramto see why It's Better in The Bahamas.

PRESS INQUIRIES

Anita Johnson-PattyBahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation[emailprotected]

Weber ShandwickPublic Relations[emailprotected]

SOURCE Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

http://www.bahamas.com

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D’Aguilar: Bahamas very close to monetizing airspace – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 6:58 pm

NASSAU, BAHAMAS The Bahamas is close to finally monetizing its airspace, according to Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio DAguilar, who noted that legislation debated in Parliament yesterday seeks to make that possible.

DAguilar led debate on a compendium of bills, namely the Civil Aviation Bill, 2021, the Civil Aviation Authority Bahamas Bill, 2021 and the Bahamas Air Navigation Services Authority Bill, 2021.

The Free Town MP noted that introduction of the Air Navigation Services Authority Bill with the insertion of the new terminology of Bahamas Administered Airspace, Bahamas Aircraft and Bahamas Territory provides The Bahamas with more economic control over its sovereign airspace and expands its aircraft registry capabilities. Section 5 of the bill allows the new civil aviation authority to enter into arrangements or partnerships with respect to the air navigation service.

DAguilar noted that Section 20 of the bill gives the new authority, with the approval of the minister, the power to develop, recommend and impose fees and service charges for the provision of air navigation services in The Bahamas, such as overflight fees for aircraft that transit Bahamian administered airspace, but neither land in nor depart from The Bahamas; air navigation service fees for services rendered within airspace of The Bahamas, including air traffic management, communications, navigation, radar surveillance, separation services, flight information services, procedural control and training; air navigation services training; and any other service related to air navigation services in The Bahamas.

The passage of this bill seeks to set up the infrastructure so that we can finally begin to monetize one of our greatest natural resources the airspace above us, said DAguilar.

We dont have to dig, drill, mine, extract, dredge anything to start making money from our airspace. We just have to figure out how to bill and how to collect a fee every time a plane flies into, or out of, or through, our airspace.

For the 48 years that have elapsed since independence, The Bahamas has never been able to realize one red cent from the airspace above our country. We are so close to changing that.

DAguilar also noted that the bill also gives the authority the ability to impose penalties for late payments and apply statutory liens on aircraft operators who do not pay their fees and/or service charges.

He noted the 2017 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Safety Oversight Audit had revealed that The Bahamas aviation legislation and the Bahamas Civil Aviation structure were largely outdated, non-compliant and unable to keep up with the ever-evolving standards and recommended practices outlined in the UN Convention on International Civil Aviation and its annexes.

As a result of this audit, the Bahamas Effective ImplementationScore fell from an average of 56.98 percent to an average of 31.98 percent in late 2017, said DAguilar, noting that this score put The Bahamas at the bottomof the list of Caribbean countries.

DAguilar noted that the ICAO auditors will return this November, 2021, to follow up on this nations corrective action plans and to determine whether previously identified safety deficiencies have been satisfactorily resolved.

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Brennen: Bahamas likely to access more than one COVID-19 vaccine – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 6:57 pm

NASSAU, BAHAMAS Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said as The Bahamas continues preparations for a COVID-19 vaccine to be made available in-country, it is likely that The Bahamas will distribute more than one approved vaccine.

During a BAAWMAR panel discussion on the vaccine moderated by Dr Khandra Sears, a board member of the NGO Brennen suggested The Bahamas preference is to access vaccines more suited for its climate and geographic makeup, including those that do not require ultra-low temperatures, which could present transportation challenges.

However, he said the country will remain flexible instead of restrictive.

We are trying not to be restrictive, but we do know that some of the issues being an island nation, being in a tropical setting, being spread out and not being one singular landmass, present particular challenges for us, he said.

And so, we are designing our vaccine deployment strategy around that to be able to make sure that what we bring in-country can be used as efficiently as possible and the vaccines that fit in that criteria are the ones that are more likely to be used in-country.

But it is not going to be one vaccine for the entire country.

We are preparing such that if we receive allocates of one that cant fulfill the entire requirement, well be able to use that one first, and then as we get another one, well still be able to deliver that other one as well and using the advantages of an advanced digital age to be able to track who gets what vaccine, so that if they need two doses, they get two of the same and we pay attention to some of those details.

Asked which vaccine will be made available in The Bahamas and the discussions surrounding that decision, Brennen said as a member state of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), The Bahamas will use the mechanism that goes with approval under WHO in order to decide which vaccines we are going use.

Usually they have a very stringent, regulatory mechanism that is set up for approval in order to make sure that vaccines have been tested and we know the kind of issues that are related to them the cold chain from manufacturing to delivery, he said.

Vaccine in-country all happens in a very systematic way. And so, we use the mechanism to reassure the Bahamian people that what we are doing meets an international standard.

And so, while we are now moving in many of these areas to emergency usage you know WHO uses it as an emergency use listing, places with other stringent regulatory authorities like the [FDA] may use terminology like emergency use authorization but either way, what you are saying is it hasnt gone through what would otherwise be seen as the usual process, but because of the issues of a pandemic, theyve been approved for emergency use.

We are going with a policy decision in-country to use the approval through WHO emergency use listing or another stringent regulatory authority that says we have done the research; we have gotten the information on the vaccine, looked at that data and said it can be approved for emergency use.

And so, there are a number of those that we trust to be able to do so.

And then with some of our Caribbean colleagues, we use the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the regional authority when it comes to reviewing vaccines to be able to ensure that emergency use listing or authorization can now be translated to the jurisdiction based on what is proposed by a manufacture to be sent to us; that it still meets that same level of stringent review that has been done so what has been approved is being sent and in that approach, the thought is we would have built in some levels of safeguards to ensure what we are going to get in-country meets at least that level of scrutiny, so we can assure the people.

The WHO granted emergency use validation to BioNTech-Pfizer last December.

Other country-specific emergency use vaccines such as Moderna and AstraZeneca, among others, continue to be examined by the WHO.

The Bahamas is expected to get access to a COVID-19 vaccinethrough the Pan American Health Organizations COVAX Facilitywithin the first quarter of this year, though that date has yet to be narrowed down.

Last week, Minister of Health Renward Wells said the government plans to order nine vaccine coolers in preparation for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in The Bahamas, and will have a vaccine facility that can hold up to 300,000 doses on New Providence and 50,000 doses on Grand Bahama.

The government hasmade a down paymentto secure 80,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to vaccinate 20 percent of the population when the vaccine becomes available in-country.

Yesterday, Brennen said while The Bahamas continues to prepare to receive a vaccine in-country, including procuring coolers and a facility to store doses, the need to keep doses at low temperatures does present a little bit of a challenge for us with transporting doses across the archipelago.

While we are putting in place the mechanisms to be able to use those types of vaccines when they become available to the country, like a Pfizer or a Moderna, we also know what would be better in our situation is if we have vaccines that take advantage of the same mechanisms that we have [been] using to keep our vaccination coverage in-country in the 90 to 95 percent range for so many of our antigens that are out there already, he said.

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City of Coral Gables Commission calls for BPC’s licenses to be revoked; push for ban on offshore drilling in The Bahamas – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 6:57 pm

NASSAU, BAHAMAS Opposition to Bahamas Petroleum Companys (BPC) offshore oil drilling activities continue to mount from within the United States and particularly neighboring Florida, with the commissioners of the city of Coral Gables having approved a resolution urging the Bahamian government to revoke the companys offshore oil drilling licenses and ban offshore drilling in The Bahamas.

The City of Coral Gables City Commission urges the Bahamian government to revoke offshore oil drilling exploration licenses issued to Bahamas Petroleum Company and urges the Bahamian government to permanently ban all offshore oil drilling activities in the Bahamas, the document states.

The City of Coral Gables City Commission further urges Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida to oppose such offshore oil drilling and work with the Bahamian government in such efforts.

It also noted that the city clerk is directed to transmit a copy of this resolution to Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and Bahamian Ambassador to the United States Sidney S Collie, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, Governor Ron DeSantis on behalf of the State of Florida and to all municipalities in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

BPC began drilling its exploratory well on December 20 and has indicated that Bahamians could learn in a matter of weeksif The Bahamas is an oil-rich nation.

A Supreme Court judge hasgranted environmentalists leaveto seek judicial review of the governments approvals for BPC to drill an exploratory well in Bahamian waters. The judge, however, denied the applicants application for a stay of theongoing drilling exercise.

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IC Bahamas Junior Series hosts its first tennis tournament of the year – Bahamas Tribune

Posted: at 6:57 pm

OVER the weekend, the IC Bahamas Junior Series hosted its first tournament of 2021 for players in the under-10 and under-12 categories at the National Tennis Centre (NTC).

The tournament sponsor was Winterbotham Trust.

Finalists in the various categories are:

Boys 10 - Winner: Lucas Zoebelein. Runner-up: Cameron Ferguson.

Girls U10 - Winner: Marlee Martin. Runner-up: Srae Rodgers.

Boys U12 - Winner: Patrick Mactaggart.

Runner-up - Chase Newbold.

Girls U12 - Winner: Sarai Clarke. Runner-up: Claudia Drgon.

The tournament was the first BLTA sanctioned junior tournament since the pandemic. Juniors were excited to get on the courts with the safety and health protocols in place.

We are very pleased to host the first tennis tournament, said IC Bahamas president Kit Spencer. This is the third year for the IC Tennis Junior Series in the Bahamas. This initial tournament should open the way for tennis tournaments to be staged with the proper safety protocols and procedures.

Spencer extended thanks to Mickey Williams, the tournament supervisor and Tara Mactaggart, the tournament organiser. In addition, Spencer thanked the NTC, BLTA and the officials at the tournament, who recently received training at the BLTAs officiating course.

The BLTA congratulated IC Bahamas for organising this tournament and ensuring a safe, smooth and seamless process. The successful tournament has paved the way for more competitive tennis tournaments in the future in a safe environment and in adherence to strict protocols.

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Commonwealth Brewery Limited and Bahama Barrels join forces for new wine brand – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 6:57 pm

NASSAU, BAHAMAS Commonwealth Brewery Limited (CBL) has announced a new partnership with local winery Bahama Barrels by Graycliff as it introduces Chillin Red and Chillin White wines.

Commonwealth Brewerys retail division, 700 Wines and Spirits, will be the sole trade distributor.

Densil Deveaux, senior manager for wines at CBL, said: We are thrilled about this wonderful partnership, as CBL has long believed in supporting Bahamian entrepreneurs.

Bahama Barrels, being the only Bahamian winery, is a natural fit to complement our current portfolio of Bahamian brands offered in retail chain.

Bahama Barrels is the brainchild of Paolo Garzaroli, whose family has been associated with excellence in wine since purchasing Graycliff in 1973. The winery is located on West Hill street in a quaint, refurbished convent originally built by the Sisters of Charity.

The Chillin wines are handcrafted by Bahamian winemaker Sylena Cartwright who trained in Italy and is the first ever Bahamian winemaker creating an end-to-end Bahamian collaboration.

Garzaroli said: We are excited to have forged this relationship with Commonwealth Brewery, which allows us to introduce ourselves and our products to the local market. Although The Bahamas is not a wine producer, its influence is evident in the ingredients, branding and overall concept of the Chillin wines.

The Chilln wines were created to fill a void for the newly graduated wine novice. The wines are to be experienced, not exploited, and [are] sure to enhance each celebratory moment.

According to CBL, the slightly sweeter palate of the Chillin wines pairs perfectly with the spice and robust flavor of popular Bahamian cuisines, and both the Sweet Red and Sweet White wines consist of familiar fruity tones.

The Sweet Red offers dense, ripe and powerful flavors of plums, berries and cocoa notes. The Sweet White is described as cheerfully sweet having intense aromas of ripe banana and hints of lime and honeydew melon.

The Chillin wine brand, in addition to Bahama Barrels prosecco, primativo and 14 Degrees Red Blend, are now available at select 700 Wines and Spirits stores across New Providence.

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NHI: We’ll protect 90% of Bahamians by 2025 – Bahamas Tribune

Posted: at 6:57 pm

But only 61% of public directly enrolled

Relies on private insurers to cover rest

Sectors early fears sufficiently satisfied

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is targeting a rapid expansion that aims to provide more than 90 percent of Bahamians with its basic primary care coverage by 2025.

The plans governing authority, in a just-released report on the publics response to its primary care goals, said widely increased coverage relies on significant buy-in by both private health insurers and physicians to help achieve this objective.

While the NHI Authority is forecasting that 61 percent of Bahamians will be directly enrolled with the scheme within the next four years, its standard health benefit (SHB) - the base level of primary coverage - will reach over 90 percent of the population via private health insurers.

The report reveals that the likes of Colina Insurance Company, Family Guardian and CG Atlantic Medical & Life will be mandated to offer NHIs SHB as part of existing and new policies, meaning their clients will not have to register as NHI beneficiaries despite being able to access the same coverage.

It was not disclosed how this requirement will be mandated and/or enforced, although presumably it will have to be given legislative effect via and Act of Parliament. And expanding the number of private doctors and physicians providing treatment to NHI beneficiaries was cited as key to improving patient outcomes and experiences, as well as expanding services throughout The Bahamas.

The primary care transformation initiative (PCTI) is on track to increase primary care coverage in The Bahamas. By 2025, 61 percent of Bahamians are projected to be enrolled in NHI with more than 90 percent having access to SHB coverage, the NHI Authority report asserted.

No data or analytical models were provided to support these projections, and one healthcare industry source - speaking to Tribune Business on condition of anonymity - said the absence of empirical evidence to support forecasts had been a consistent gap with the NHI scheme.

Everything they have in that document is what they project will happen, the source said. There is no statistical evidence for the hypothesis: This is what we want to happen, this is how we do it, how much it will cost.

This is the theory behind it. From inception NHI has been very theoretical from book knowledge and predictions, but very little is hard facts as to what theyre doing so they can continue to provide cost effective, sustainable healthcare for The Bahamas. Theres no one knocking down the doors to join.

They added that, to achieve its 2025 breadth of coverage objectives, the NHI Authority was hedging its bets on the insurance industry coming on board to provide NHI benefits to beneficiaries, and to be their representatives through an NHI partnership. They are also depending on private physicians to align with NHI to expand then provider platform.

It appears that the Bahamian health insurance industry may have little choice but to comply with the quest for what is billed as universal access to affordable healthcare for Bahamians. The NHI Authoritys latest report acknowledges that its plans mean changes for private insurers and both their individual and group (employer) clients.

Individuals who have coverage through private insurance will no longer be eligible to access primary care coverage from NHI. Instead, they will be able to access SHB coverage through their private policy, the NHI Authority affirmed.

Private insurers will be required to mirror SHB as the minimum standard of coverage for primary care. This means that existing private insurance plans will be strengthened, while requiring no co-payments or deductibles for SHB services and offering an improved patient experience through the electronic health record. Individuals who are privately insured will not need to enroll in the NHI programme.

In addition to the SHB, policyholders will continue to enjoy any existing coverage that they have previously negotiated with their private insurers and/or employers. The reforms under the PCTI will also provide greater cost certainty for insurers and should provide for more predictable and affordable policies.

Sandy Morley, the Bahamas Insurance Associations (BIA) vice-chairman, yesterday told Tribune Business that the health insurance industrys initial concerns over the SHB proposal and NHIs wider implications for the sector have been satisfied following discussions with the Authority.

Weve had extensive dialogue, he said. There have been discussions, and theres a working group that NHI has put in place which includes the Bahamas Insurance Association. There were some initial concerns but we were able to work through them sufficiently and the industry is satisfied with how its going to work.

The only aspect that impacts us is the aspect of primary care. Its not going to impact the additional health benefits for any of our customers. Weve always had the standard benefit. What this does is carve out who should be registered with NHI and who shouldnt be.

The NHI Authoritys latest report reiterated its belief that the public healthcare system, and Bahamian taxpayers, could enjoy a total $55m in savings spread over the next five fiscal years by better integrating the existing primary care facilities (clinics) with treatments provided by NHI.

We envision part of these savings to be reinvested into the system to update and upgrade some public healthcare facilities. Engaging the private sector through public-private partnership (PPP) models will also bring in much-needed investment to enable us to deliver improvements without the burden of financing capital on the public sector, the report added.

Recognising we are in the midst of difficult financial times for Bahamians, the NHI Authority is committed to the journey towards affordable healthcare and universal health coverage. We are seeking to remove financial barriers like co-pays and deductibles in accessing healthcare.

The NHI Authority had previously estimated that it could trim the Governments annual primary healthcare system by $16m per annum come the 2024-2025 fiscal year, lowering the total from $130m under the present structure to around $113m. This would involve NHI accounting for the bulk of such spending, some $91m, while virtually eliminating the Public Hospitals Authoritys (PHA) contribution in this area.

However, the economic devastation inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed some limits on what the NHI Authority can ask taxpayers to fund. For the foreseeable future it is focusing in primary care only, having been forced to pause a planned expansion to include catastrophic care benefits.

The NHI 2.0 proposal included expanded benefits to deliver more comprehensive coverage for high-cost care, a mandate for employers to provide insurance and a national risk pool to enable affordability and access, the NHI Authority said.

In a post-COVID-19 landscape where our economy has recovered, and when the time is right, we will strive to expand coverage and implement other reforms initially envisioned as part of NHI 2.0. For now, we recognise the need to balance our healthcare priorities while considering the challenges our businesses and economy face.

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Letters to the Editor: What about the suffering Sky Bahamas employees? – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 6:57 pm

Dear Editor,

I read with concern a report in the paper this week about a foreign investor seeking a default judgement against former Sky Bahamas CEO Randy Butler. Dont get me wrong, if the investor has been wronged in the collapse of the airline, he should recover what he is owed.

Many of us are suffering. We have children to feed, school bills to pay, mortgages hanging over our heads. Some who lived on Abaco or Grand Bahama were severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian and were just trying to get back on their feet when calamity struck.

The management and staff of Sky Bahamas have been left out in the cold and cant even get Captain Butler to show up to the Industrial Tribunal to discuss the matter. We have been taken advantage of and totally ignored.

We wish Mr Kaiser all the best in recovering his money, but we dont want our claim to fall between the cracks. Captain Butler knows what he owes us. He should have the decency to come to the table and speak with those who gave him so much over the years.

Sincerely,

A former Sky employee

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