A BIG kerfuffle erupted on Thursday, with MPs from ruling Disy and main opposition Akel accusing their colleagues from Diko and Edek of seeking to torpedo the national health scheme (Gesy) at the last moment.
After a drawn-out process, parliament last week signed off on three bills that would enable the roll-out of Gesy providing (mandatory) universal healthcare coverage.
The bills are scheduled to be voted by parliament on June 16.
The matter was considered to be wrapped up.
But during a session of the House health committee on Thursday, where Gesy was not on the agenda, socialists Edek announced their intention to table an amending legislative proposal.
Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos said the amendment enshrined patients’ right to choose their physician under the new regime.
This caused some confusion and consternation, as it’s understood that the right in question was already spelled out in the bills. Moreover, the parties had agreed that they would not submit any amendments beyond Wednesday.
Suspecting an attempt by Edek to create waves after everything had been agreed, committee chair Costas Constandinou (Disy) proceeded to reveal that Diko plan to table another amendment proposing to suspend for three years the autonomy of state hospitals.
Administrative and financial autonomy of state hospitals is a stepping stone to – and thus an integral component of – Gesy.
If passed, Diko’s proposal would effectively derail the drive for a reformed healthcare system.
Constandinou then asked Sizopoulos directly if his party would be co-sponsoring the Diko amendment, given that the two parties have struck a political alliance ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
Sizopoulos denied this, and insisted his party would vote for the Gesy bills.
The back-and-forth transferred to social media.
A day earlier, health minister Giorgos Pamboridis had tweeted out that vested interests were making a last-gasp effort to scupper Gesy:
“They are seeking a political leader to play the role of Judas. They probably found him…”
But he had declined to name the interest groups.
On Thursday, and following the session of the House health committee, Akel MP Giorgos Loukaides entered the fray, tweeting:
“Edek and Diko tabling amendments to Gesy, reneging on their commitments. Big interests continue to undermine Gesy!”
Playing on the ‘Judas’ meme, Edek’s Sizopoulos posted this on his Twitter account:
“Judas as we all know was a disciple of Christ. Shall we assume that in this case Judas belongs to the government camp?”
Hitting back at Sizopoulos, the health minister left little doubt as to whom he was pointing the finger at.
Evidently a believer in the maxim “a picture is worth a thousand words,” the minister retweeted a post originally appearing on Edek’s official Twitter account.
The Edek tweet was a photo of Sizopoulos meeting with representatives of the Cyprus Medical Association.