By Staff Writer
Who is being hypocritical in the ongoing MRI controversy? That is the question.
Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris claims it is Dr. Terrance Drew. Nonsence, says Dr. Drew. The hypocritical one is Dr. Harris.
Both men are in the public’s eye as they debate the merits of an MRI machine where Federation citizens go to take tests and hopefully improve their health. OnMonday, Aug. 22, the latest blast in the ongoing verbal war exploded when Dr. Harris took to the airwaves to criticize Dr. Drew for allegedly ‘hypocritical behavior’ regarding MRI tests in the Federation.
The Prime Minister claimed that the physician while criticizing local MRI operations continues to send patients to use the service. Dr. Harris also took the occasion to note that for the first time in the history of St. Kitts and Nevis, MRI services are being offered at a much cheaper cost than if a patient traveled to Antigua or Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Harris added, “Some of those people who are criticizing are hypocrites on the Labour platform like Dr. Drew and others. They are the doctors sending people for MRI services and then they go on the Freedom radio like a poppy show.”
Launching a counter-attack, Dr. Drew said the Federation has only one MRI machine and that it is located in the Biomedical center. He implied that if there is only one machine in the Federation, you have to use it, even if you are being criticized for the use. He also took the time to clarify how physicians see the issue.
“Doctors order tests and the patient then chooses where to go,” he declared. “If I order an MRI, the patient can choose to go overseas or to take the tests at the Biomedical center. What happens is that when a patient goes to the insurance and asks the company to pay their expenses, the insurance company directs them to the Biomedical center. They also tell them they will not pay for them to go overseas since they have an MRI here.”
The Observer contacted an insurance company (name withheld) on the issue. A company spokesman said it is not a mandate that a patient has tests carried out locally. But if the patient decides on seeking treatment overseas, it must be done on their own costs and that the patient would need receipts in order to be reimburse. The official added that the insurance would only cover the local rate and the reimbursement would be at that level. If treatment is done locally, the insurer would pay 80 percent of the bill.
Dr. Drew said he isn’t the hypocrite and suggested that label belongs to the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister is playing politics and lying to the population while undertaking hypocrisy at the same time,” he stated..
The MRI scandal came to light when the government revealed there was a Stem Cell project underway at JN France Hospital. This caused some outcry from the public and from the Opposition party.
At a press conference, former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas said under his administration the government had bought an MRI machine that he claimed still sits in Florida waiting shipment to the Federation. That claim was refuted by Dr. Harris in another press conference where Harris said more than 200 people had benefited from using the local machine.