Tariffs set for St. Maarten Medical Center, minister signs decree


PHILIPSBURG--After lengthy lobbying, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) can now operate with new tariffs.
Health Minister Cornelius de Weever signed the ministerial decree on November 18, setting new tariffs for the hospital.

A team comprising representatives of the Department of Public Health and the minister's cabinet conducted a study to determine to what extent the provisions outlined in the ordinance regulating the transition to country status (overgangsverordening) could be used to adapt the tariffs for medical care provided at St. Elisabeth Hospital Sehos in Curaçao to SMMC. Based on the results of that study, De Weever signed the ministerial decree on SMMC tariffs.

"SMMC can continue to expand the services and hire the necessary staff to do so. I believe that this will reduce the cost and inconvenience of having to travel abroad for these other medical services that are not available in St. Maarten," De Weever explained.

The study concluded that SMMC and Sehos were considered equivalent hospitals by means of national decree. Sehos used to be considered the national hospital of the former Netherlands Antilles.

In accordance with Article 7 of the transitional ordinance, the minister has the mandate to designate SMMC as the institution that replaces Sehos. This ultimately entails that the rates established for services provided in Sehos can also be applied to SMMC, it was stated in a press release issued by the minister's cabinet.

SMMC was granted a licence by the Executive Council of the then island territory in July 2010 to initiate the first phase of its expansion plans. In its expansion request, SMMC indicated that the expansion eventually would lead to a reduction in the country's health care expenditures, as services and treatments that are currently unavailable would be made available locally, stated the release. The expansion in services would include cardiology, urology and neurology.

"Consequently, the expansion has led to the need in establishing tariffs for this specialty. In accordance with the ordinance of health insurance, which outlines the regulations of the social security insurance, fees for the provision of medical care are to be established by means of national decree.

"That decree which was transferred to country St. Maarten stipulates the fees for specialised hospital care; however, the fees were specified per hospital, in other words, fees applicable to medical care provided in e.g. Sehos of Curaçao were not always in line with those of SMMC.

"Additionally, the fees/tariffs were only established for care that was provided in the various hospitals. Consequently, it was not possible to automatically assume that those tariffs would be applicable to SMMC after 10/10/10," the release stated.