HEALTHCARE in Cyprus reached the end of “a long and painful” road on Thursday after the House health committee signed off on three bills for the national health scheme (Gesy), which will be put to a vote at the plenum on June 16.
Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis, who attended the committee meeting to convey the cabinet’s final decisions on healthcare reform, welcomed the development.
“A long and painful procedure has been completed today at the House health committee on the reform of the healthcare sector, (state hospital) autonomy, employment issues concerning the autonomy, and the Gesy,” Pamboridis said.
The minister told MPs that the government’s intention is to make state hospitals the flagship of healthcare once Gesy kicks in.
Pamboridis said that the government will support any overruns in public hospitals for the first five years, but that there will be strict controls and monitoring for proper utilisation of the resources absorbed by Gesy.
He reiterated that they would not give a blank cheque to anyone to waste public money.
The addition of this clause by the government, Pamboridis said, settles all pending matters, therefore the committee decided to refer the bills to the plenum.
Government support for state hospitals was a demand voiced by all political parties, who argued that this is imperative to ensure they do not collapse financially once Gesy kicks in.
Regarding contributions, Pamboridis told MPs that in the first phase, starting on March 1, 2019, the cost of outpatient care for workers and pensioners will be 1.7 per cent of their salary, for employers 1.85 per cent, for the state 1.65 per cent, and for the self-employed 2.55 per cent.
In the second phase, he said, which will kick in a year later and will cover outpatient and inpatient care until the full implementation of Gesy, pensioners and workers will pay 2.65 per cent, employers 2.9 per cent, the state 4.7 per cent and the self-employed 4 per cent of their income.
Pamboridis thanked the committee and all political parties for their constructive stance during the discussion of the bills
The head of the House health committee, Costas Constantinou, said that it had been a “persistent and arduous process” that ended with a consensus between all parties, even though it seemed impossible at the beginning.
He added that it was now up to the plenum.
“It is a conclusion that has been achieved with the contribution of everyone,” Constantinou said.
He also thanked Pamboridis “for his decisive stance and will”.
Akel MP Giorgos Georgiou welcomed the development but said that a road map is in order, on the support of state hospitals.
Diko and Edek MPs – members of the committee – said their respective parties would upvote the bills.
Meanwhile the Social Alliance for the Implementation of Gesy – comprised of 38 patients’ associations, left-wing and right-wing workers’ unions and consumers’ and pensioners’ associations – launched on Thursday an online signature campaign to raise as much support as possible for the implementation of the new health scheme.
Members of the public are invited to visit the website the group launched and sign a petition calling on all political forces to “remain focused on the unanimous decisions taken and to support the reform bills on the Gesy”.
The website, in Greek only, may be found at http://gesyedokaitora.com.