Friday 24 May, 2019

Deyalsingh: Minister can't intervene in CLF decision

The Minister of Health cannot intervene in any decision taken by the Board of the Children’s Life Fund (CLF).

So said Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who sought to make his position clear in the denial of funding to a three-year-old girl in need of a bone marrow transplant abroad. Her parents were able to raise the funds needed but have been denied a reimbursement through the CLF.

Shannen Luke suffers from a blood disorder known as Beta Thalassemia Major, which requires her to have monthly blood transfusions as well as daily therapy to remove excess iron from her body.

In time, the condition can result in various complications including cardiac failure, liver disease, endocrine organ disease, osteoporosis and other issues.

Her condition was deemed by the Board as non-life threatening. Funding from the CLF, in accordance with Section 19 of the Children’s Life Fund Act, is granted in cases where it is determined that the condition is life-threatening.

Deyalsingh told LoopTT that it is not within the remit of the Minister to agree or disagree with the funding.

“The Board examined the case, the Board examined the Act under which they operate and the Board is satisfied that the Act does not speak to reimbursement.

The Act speaks to any parent who is putting forward a case for the consideration of the Board. The Board will then look at all the criteria as set out in the Act of Parliament and make a judgement to hand over a million dollars of taxpayers’ money to a parent that qualifies under the Act.”  

He stressed that the Board determines whether a case deserves funding.

“This is the only part of our free public health care system that is under the management of an Act of Parliament. As deserving as many cases are, and we empathise with the parents, in this particular case and all the cases that come before the Children’s Life Fund, the Board has to act within the four corners of the law.”

“If the Board is satisfied the appropriate monies will be made available.”

The Minister said no exceptions could be made as doing so would to jeopardise future children from accessing the Fund.

“Once you start to make these exceptions and start to go contrary to the law, then other children in the future, their treatment could be jeopardised.

We have to look at the whole picture and the Board will make its determination.”

Asked whether the Board deals with reimbursements or has ever issued one, the Minister answered: “To the best of my knowledge, no.”

Section 9 of the Act lists as one of the responsibilities of the Board: "establish procedures for applying to the Children’s Life Fund, determining the eligibility for the payment or reimbursement of medical expenses for beneficiaries and processing claim disputes." 

Deyalsingh boasted that he has signed off on 50 positive recommendations since becoming Minister.

He noted that at least 10 cases which were deemed non-life threatening were rejected under the previous administration. 


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