Police Welfare Association say current medical insurance falls short of the law 

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Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin. (file photo)
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by Carlena Knight

[email protected]

A more comprehensive medical coverage plan is what the Police Welfare Association (PWA) say they are lobbying for from government.

PWA Chair Corporal Marilyn Harris explained that although there is major medical insurance in place, they do not have full coverage.

Harris said many times the body has had to use its own coffers to help lawmen seeking medical attention for specific matters as the current insurance plan falls short.

“We would have submitted proposals outlining exactly what is it we want and our full medical insurance; we will stick to that because we do not have that.

“We would have said that we are so tired of expending ourself, going to doctors, spending our monies and not being able to be reimbursed,” she told yesterday’s Observer AM show.

“When we met with our minister we said, minister, we need our full insurance, please give us our insurance card so when we go to seek services, we will have our card and everything will be paid for 100 percent by the government as prescribed by law. That hasn’t been done.

“Over the years nothing like that has been done so we continue to pay our monies. Sometimes it takes three years before we are reimbursed or some of us will die in service without being reimbursed.

“Our receipts are in the government treasury and we are not being reimbursed,” Harris said.

The PWA’s executive arm appeared on Tuesday’s Observer AM show to clarify statements made by the Legal Affairs Minister Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin during his budget presentation on Monday.

The minister used a small section of his time to respond to previous claims made by the association over medical insurance.

Benjamin said the body’s claims were “irresponsible and downright inaccurate” especially regarding medical insurance which he said has been in place for decades. This, he said, was corroborated by the State Insurance company in a letter dated February 11 2022.

He added that these policies are still in effect and that several payouts have been made recently.

But the PWA also spoke to a Cabinet announcement dated July 7 2021, which stated that officers who use any physician other than the prescribed practitioner stationed at the Maple Southwell-Walter Medical Clinic at Police Headquarters would not be reimbursed.

This is the same case for officers who seek dental services outside of cleaning and extraction of teeth.

But the PWA’s Second Vice Chairman, Corporal Sylvester George, said this was a cause for concern as the law states that officers should have “100 percent coverage”.

He added that the physician at the clinic is not “a specialised doctor and therefore officers are at a disadvantage when seeking medical aid”.

It is for these reasons that the PWA is reiterating their call for additions to their medical insurance, to include things like eye screenings, full dental services and other medical screenings.

During his budget speech presentation, Benjamin said discussions were underway to increase coverage for other medical screenings for employees such as “gynaecologists and urologists, and cancer screenings” and “should be finalised and implemented by the beginning of third quarter for 2022”.

Meanwhile, the PWA is also continuing to lobby for risk allowance and improvements to general working conditions. They urged the government to respond to these matters as well.

The body did however pledge to continue their duty in serving and protecting the people of Antigua and Barbuda.

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