Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis on Wednesday called Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos a ‘prince of darkness and of lies’ who, instead of admitting to his mistake after announcing he had the minister on tape promising a multi-payer public health system, continues to spread more lies.
The outspoken minister lambasted Papadopoulos after the latter made public on Wednesday part of the minutes of a meeting of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) that took place in July last year where Pamboridis is quoted as saying that he was in favour of the launch of the National Health Scheme (Gesy) as a single-payer system since the opposite would cause great delay, but that it could be evolved after three years into a multi-payer one.
Presidential candidate Papadopoulos released the minutes after he was challenged by Pamboridis to do so following the former’s statements on Monday that he had the health minister on tape promising insurance agents that he would push for a multi-payer Gesy.
Papadopoulos’ camp said that the Anastasiades administration delayed tabling the Gesy bill to parliament for three whole years because it was going back and forth between a single-payer and a multi-payer system, “depending on the audience”. The minutes in question, they said, prove that the real intention of the current administration was to serve the interests of insurance companies, which however failed due to reactions of other stakeholders and of political parties.
The presidential candidate’s camp did not release the recording but a printed document. They said that the recording “which confirms the minutes” was made by one of the many attendees of the meeting.
“I am very saddened to watch Mr Nicolas Papadopoulos and his camp slip from one serious error to another, manipulating untrue references and trying to create impressions out of thin air,” Pamboridis said.
The minister said that while Papadopoulos had said initially that he had him on tape, giving the impression that it was part of secret dealings, “finally, he told us that they were the minutes of a public statement I made to OEV”.
Pamboridis said that these statements of his were made three days before the meeting of the political leaders with president Nicos Anastasiades, in which “Diko also participated” and where they had decided and finalised the final form of Gesy.
He also referred everyone to read the first interview he had given in September 2015, a month after he assumed duties as minister.
“This is what I said to Phileleftheros; that we start off with a single-payer system and if it has any shortages then it can switch to a mixed one. That’s what I said,” Pamboridis said. He added that he said the same thing in other interviews which is what the president and political leaders had said: “We must be prepared, if the single-payer system – which the government is proposing – does not work smoothly as expected, then to evolve into something else”.
He added that this is also stipulated in an article of the law on Gesy which Papadopoulos also voted. The article in question, Pamboridis is referring to, stipulates that the organisation – that is to oversee the autonomous state hospitals – must assess every three years the efficiency and functionality of the entire system and inform the health minister who, in his turn will inform the cabinet would decide if modifications are in order to improve the system.
“It is with sorrow that I see today, that instead of keeping quiet and apologise, they are trying to make an issue out of nothing,” he said. He added that Papadopoulos, instead of taking responsibility for his error, “is trying with further lies, to vindicate himself by turning into a prince of darkness and of lies and of mudslinging”.
Papadopoulos’ camp said in an announcement that Pamboridis, realising that he has been proven wrong by the published minutes, has stooped yet again to hurling insults. “It is not worth dealing with him anymore,” they said.