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Department of Labour & Pensions fills empty posts

| 09/10/2014 | 0 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS Business): A number of senior positions at the Department of Labour & Pensions left vacant for some months have recently been filled “through succession planning, reassignment of staff, and appointment of new personnel in an effort to improve service delivery to meet client needs”, the department says, although there is no word yet regarding the post on Cayman Brac, where the officer has been on required leave with pay now for more than six months. The new appointments include J. Loval Linwood as deputy director (labour), Leticia Goring as senior pensions officer, Dwayne Forde as senior labour officer, Angela Madourie as labour & pensions inspector, and Gene Hydes as acting head of inspections. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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‘Tom Cruise’ et al ham it up with Hamaty

| 08/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Proving that he can take a joke, Tortuga Rum Company founder Robert Hamaty has released a video in partnership with creators CML TV, making fun of himself for being “had” last week by professional Jack Nicholson impersonator Jack Bullard, who called in at the company’s outlet store during a cruise ship visit. Thinking that he was the real Jack Nicholson, Hamaty gave him a tour and some free rum cakes — a story that was picked up by the local newspaper and published without question. In response, Hamaty and CML TV have produced a video, “People Will Do Anything To Get A World Famous Tortuga Rum Cake”. Watch the video on CNS Business

Related article on CNS:

Newspaper’s 'Jack' blooper

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Onus on insurer in disputes

| 08/10/2014 | 19 Comments

(CNS): If a health insurance provider refuses to cover a medical procedure on the grounds that it was not medically necessary, the onus is on the insurance company to prove it, according to Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Conolly. The regulations in the health insurance law outline what is 'medically necessary', however, there are instances where the healthcare provider and the insurance provider may not see eye-to-eye concerning the diagnosis and treatment of the patient, Conolly told CNS, but in those cases the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) always puts the onus on the insurance provider to justify why that particular procedure is not medically necessary and to prove, with evidence to support their claims, that the care provided was really for the comfort and convenience of the patient or that it was not the appropriate level of treatment of that procedure.

“Then that is something that we would take up with the healthcare provider,” he said, “but we are usually able to work through most of those complaints without it escalating any further.”

In an instance of a true emergency where the healthcare provider has to provide treatment at that point of time, it is usually not contested by the insurer, Conolly explained. “It is usually the elective procedures that are planned where you could have those concerns as to whether it was medically necessary or not,” he said.

In these cases the doctor would generally seek a pre-certification from the insurance regarding the surgery or procedure that they are planning to carry out so that the insurer has the opportunity to look at it before they actually receive the claim, and if there any concerns they will then contact the healthcare provider, usually 24 to 48 hours before the procedure is actually carried out.

“Again, the onus is on the insurance provider to prove that it is not medically necessary,” Conolly stressed. “I can't recall too many instances where, once we put the facts together, that the insurance providers have not supported it.”

The approved insurers have their own medical consultants that they use to defend their position on the matter, he said. “In that case, you would have the medical consultants speaking directly to the physician, and a lot of cases are resolved in that way.”

He added, “The last thing we want to see is that the patient is negatively affected under these circumstances. In other words, if the medical procedure is necessary we want to defend that person.”

The Health Insurance Commission now has the power to impose administrative fines up to $1,000 for both employers and insurance companies for infractions of the health insurance law. If the accused person or company wants to challenge the HIC decision or if the matter is not resolved administratively, it will still end up in court but if it escalates to this level, the offender could end up with a much bigger fine imposed by the magistrate – up to $30,000 in some cases

The new powers given to the HIC, which kicked in at the beginning of this month, gives teeth to the commission for the first time. Conolly said they like to resolve cases before they get to the point where there is no cooperation and they end up in court, so having the administrative fines available as an additional tools to resolve matters is very useful. Only about 20% of cases end up in court, he noted, and they hope that these new powers will reduce that.

The HIC receives complaints about insurance providers not paying all the time, he said. The commission will then look at the benefit plans that that complainant has and assess the benefits that individual is entitled to under the contract. Ninety-five per centof the time they are able to resolve the matter, he said.

“Where the insurer is clearly not honoring the contract, in those cases we will definitely decide in favor of the insured person and require the insurer to honour the contract,” he maintained.

However, he said that in about half the cases taken to the commission it's because the insured people don't understand what benefits they are entitled to. He said that very often people don’t even read their plan of benefits. “And it's only when they go to the healthcare provider that they realize that they are not covered under the benefits, or if they are, they find that they are not covered to the level that they expected.”

Related articles on CNS Business:

$1,000 fines for health insurance offences

Medicare-type health insurance being proposed

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Convicted money launderers now whistleblowers

| 07/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Canadian investment advisor Eric St-Cyr, who was working from a Cayman Islands-based financial services firm, and Patrick Poulin, a Canadian attorney based in the Turks and Caicos Islands, were both sentenced Friday to serve 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring to launder money. The two men are now said to be cooperating with the IRS and more investigations are expected from the information they have provided. St-Cyr and Poulin, along with US citizen Joshua VanDyk, were indicted on 6 March. The judge imposed the sentences after considering the defendants’ substantial cooperation with ongoing government investigations. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Newspaper’s ‘Jack’ blooper

| 05/10/2014 | 124 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): The newspaper that has tended of late to wallow in self-praise of its professionalism and scrupulous fact checking plopped a howler on its front page Friday. Apparently not thinking it odd that Hollywood superstar Jack Nicholson, one of the wealthiest and most award-nominated actors in American history with a net worth of $400 million, would arrive in Cayman on board a packed cruise ship, The Cayman Compass happily printed a picture of Tortuga Rum Company founder Robert Hamaty with “Nicholson”. It wasn’t, of course, the real Jack but professional impersonator Jack Bullard of Las Vegas, Nevada (left). According to Hamaty, he looked and spoke just like the real deal. “The staff called me (in) my office upstairs to say come and meet him,” he said.

The Compass reported on its front page on Friday 3 October: “Mr Nicholson got an opportunity to sample some cigars at Tortuga Rum Company on Wednesday, where he dropped in during a cruise ship visit to Grand Cayman.” (See below)

It doesn’t seem likely. Nicholson (the real one) has appeared in numerous films, notably Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Shining, Reds, Terms of Endearment, Batman, A Few Good Men, As Good as It Gets, About Schmidt, Something's Gotta Give, and The Departed.

He set a record for his role as the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 by negotiating for a percentage of the movie's gross earnings, which earned him $60 million cumulatively – so, not your average passenger on a Carnival cruise ship.

In a recent editorial about misinformation from a government source, the Compass Editorial Board wrote: “[R]ather than rushing to our keyboards to copy-and-paste from the official script, we acted as any professional news organization should: We picked up the phone …”

Sadly, this time the keyboards were rushed to and the phone was ignored. A mea culpa is expected Monday. 

Cayman News Service, Jack Nicholson impersonator

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Royal Navy ship to visit Grand Cayman

| 03/10/2014 | 23 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Royal Navy Warship HMS Argyll, which made a USD$33.5 million drugs bust in the Caribbean this summer, will be visiting Grand Cayman Sunday through Wendesay (5-8 October) to strengthen relations and conduct hurricane and disaster relief planning. HMS Argyll’s Commanding Officer, Commander Paul Hammond, said, “I am delighted to bring HMS Argyll to the Cayman Islands to reassure with our presence and to continue our strong relationship with local authorities.” In August the Argyll seized nearly 600 kilos of cocaine (left) with a UK street value of £21 million after a 12-hour pursuit across an unspecified area of the Caribbean.

According to a Royal Navy report, after receiving information that a suspicious-looking vessel had been spotted by a Maritime Patrol Aircraft, HMS Argyll, which is on counter-narcotic operations in the region, deployed to intercept it.

Once she closed on the boat, the ship launched her onboard Lynx helicopter to confirm it was acting in a way typical of drug smugglers, before sending her sea boats across to capture the crew and contraband.

Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois said at the time, “The Royal Navy has a hard-earned record of tackling illegal drugs smuggling and we should be extremely proud that HMS Argyll has been involved in a dramatic and very successful operation to disrupt the supply. The operations showed tenacity and professionalism.”

Commander Hammond said, “My team and I knew that a swift and correct interception was required in this case. We worked well with our international partners to give ourselves the best chance of success and I used the exceptional capabilities of a modern warship, including sea boats and the Lynx helicopter, to detain the crew and seize the drugs from the target vessel.”

Once onboard the small power boat, known as ago-fast, the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and Royal Navy sailors discovered bales of cocaine wrapped in bin bags. Also on board HMS Argyll were elite Royal Marine Maritime Snipers from Faslane-based 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group.

Caynman News Service

Five people also found on board were detained in HMS Argyll and handed over to US justice on Friday 22 August.

While in the Caribbean the Royal Navy works with a LEDET team from the US Coastguard which embark on their ships for counter-narcotic operations.

This work is part of Operation Martillo, a 15-nation collaborative effort to deny trans-national criminal organisations air and maritime access to the littoral regions of Central America, and focus on putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America to the western world.

HMS Argyll has deployed to the Caribbean region to provide reassurance and, if required, humanitarian aid and disaster relief support to the UK’s British Overseas Territories and other islands during the hurricane season.

The Type 23 frigate continues to conduct counter narcotics patrols in conjunction with the US Coast Guard and other partner nations to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.

During her time in Grand Cayman, HMS Argyll will host a Hurricane and Disaster Relief seminar as well as hosting local dignitaries and other groups.  Her crew will be seen ashore working on local community projects and during sporting events including a rugby match.

"I look forward to working closely with the governor and the government to ensure a successful and productive visit," said Commander Hammond, who will pay a courtesy call on Her Excellency the Governor Helen Kilpatrick and other Government dignitaries on Monday. Governor Kilpatrick will later host the Captain and crew for a farewell reception on Tuesday 7 December.

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Medicare-type health insurance being proposed

| 03/10/2014 | 0 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS Business): Employers are compelled under the law to provide workers with health insurance through one of the Cayman Islands’ approved insurance providers, but after retirement many employees are finding that they are without coverage. However, the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) is currently working on a proposal for government for a retirement health insurance plan similar to Medicare in the US that people would pay into while they worked and would cover them in their golden years. Some companies do provide for their past employees who have retired by allowing them to remain in their group insurance package, according to Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Conolly. Unfortunately, he said, that is not the norm. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Cruise line eyes bigger slice of the pie

| 30/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Royal Caribbean’s ‘Double-Double Program’, a new three-year profitability initiative that aims to double earnings per share and increase the company’s return on capital to double-digits by 2017, may have a negative impact on cruise ports, including Grand Cayman, according to a Canadian academic who researches the cruise industry. Memorial University of Newfoundland Professor Ross Klein believes the initiative, which was announced during Royal Caribbean’s stockholders meeting in July, could impact cruise destinations because part of the strategy is to encourage on-board spending. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Black-tie fundraiser for marine research

| 26/09/2014 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The Festival of Seas, the annual gala event and fundraiser held by the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, will be lighting up Camana Bay on 18 October. This year’s event, the Blue Gala, celebrates our ocean and its many treasures – the coral reefs, fish, and beaches that contribute so much to Cayman’s happiness and economy. The money raised from the fundraiser will benefit CCMI’s research and education programmes dedicated to protecting our coral reefs for the future.

“This year’s blue theme celebrates the natural beauty of the ocean,” explained Jade Arch, CCMI’s event organizer for the Festival of Seas.  “Our goal is to honor everything the ocean provides us each day living here in the Cayman Islands, as well as educating our guests about what must be done to ensure its health for future generations. Everything about the Blue Gala will bring the ocean to life – even the dance floor is inspired by the ocean’s bioluminescence.”

The event will feature a live auction, a silent auction, and a raffle. Many local businesses have donated exceptional auction items that include resort stays, original prints by nationally recognized artists and photographers, and prize packages. The event will commence with a cocktail hour, a time for guests to view items for the live auction, bid on items in the silent auction, and enjoy chatting with CCMI staff and guests. 

The gala dinner will feature the local cuisine of several Camana Bay restaurants.  The celebration will continue as guests move to the dance floor, with lighting inspired by the ocean’s natural bioluminescence. 

Black-tie is required, but guests are encouraged to wear blue to the gala to celebrate their love for the ocean. Tables at the Blue Gala are limited, but are still available.  For more information and ticket sales contact Jade Arch at jarch@reefresearch.org

Read more about Central Caribbean Marine Institute

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Freedomof Information’s first responders

| 26/09/2014 | 1 Comment

The Freedom of Information Law has been in effect now for 5 and a half years and public authorities in the Cayman Islands have fielded over 3,500 requests from the public for all kinds of records. Whether it is questions about how the Turtle Farm is operating, what the future holds for electricity generation in Cayman or the travel expenses of your elected officials, all those requests have had to be acknowledged and processed by someone in government, namely Information Managers (IMs).

The IMs are on the front lines when it comes to meeting the government’s obligations under the FOI Law. As part of Right to Know Week we are highlighting IMs and want to take a moment to recognize the busiest IM in the Cayman Islands, Ms. Petula Twinn, LLB from the Immigration Department. Last year Petula fielded over 140 FOI requests, in addition to her regular duties as the Immigration Appeals Coordinator, and she has had only five cases that were appealed to the ICO in the last 5 years.

Petula recently took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions we had for her.

Tell me how long you have been an FOI Manager and what your feelings are regarding the job so far, i.e. challenges, opportunities etc.

I’ve been the FOI Manager for the Department since the FOI Law came into effect. The first year was challenging as the concept of the public being able to simply request and receive documents/information from a government entity was a new one and required a new way of thinking. Additionally, Immigration was one of the departments to receive the most requests, with the majority of requests made by persons wishing to view their immigration files.

Tell me why you think your public authority receives so many requests per year.

Prior to the FOI Law coming into effect, generally persons were not able to view their immigration files and there was a bit of an ‘air of mystery’ about them. Now that persons have access to their files, many    individuals are eager to view their file to see what it contains. In many instances, I have had applicants view their files and comment that they expected it to be a lot more interesting!

Tell me if FOI has in anyway changed the way your public authority does business and whether those changes have been positive or negative, and in what way.

I think the FOI Law has helped Immigration make a number of positive changes in that the department is now more proactive in providing information to the public. For instance, our website now contains all application forms, along with guidance notes and the current Law. We have a ‘Latest Updates’ which provides important information to the public. This information can include changes to the current Immigration Law and new forms or procedures in submitting applications. Currently, this section provides information on changes pertaining to the English Language Test.

Do you feel that FOI has made your public authority more accountable? If so, how?

Definitely. I think that just knowing that someone can request a document, whether it be a file note, memorandum, minutes from a meeting, a copy of an email, there is a concerted effort in ensuring information is recorded and stored accurately.

If someone asked you for a tip on how to make a good FOI request what would you say to them?

Try to be as specific as possible about the information that you have requested as it helps the FOI Manager identify the records/information that you need.

If your public authority needed someone to take over the FOI Manager duties from you what type of person would you tell your manager to look for? I.e. what type of personality, experience, education etc., should they be looking for?

Based on my experience with FOI, the position requires someone who is objective, naturally helpful and has an open mind. Many times people are not quite sure of the exact document or information that they are seeking and as the FOI Manager, you must be able to ask the appropriate questions in order to determine what an individual is requesting.

In the words of one IM the job they do is “thankless and tireless” but without them it would not be possible for the public to exercise their very important rights to access public records. That is why the Information Commissioner’s Office would like to thank IMs and Deputy IMs across the public sector for their hard work as FOI’s First Responders .

If you would like to know more about the Information Commissioner’s Right to Know Week Activities or the Freedom of information Law please visit our website at www.infocomm.ky or call us on 747-5402.

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