Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Wednesday he was optimistic that the necessary number of private doctors would agree to join the National Health Scheme (Gesy) for the health reform to be launched successfully.
He was commenting on the government’s refusal to increase the Gesy budget, one of five conditions set by the medical association (CyMA), for participating in Gesy.
CyMA said around two weeks ago that all talks with the government were at an end until they receive an official response to their set of demands. Both the health ministry and the Health Insurance Information (HIO), replied this week that the budget increase was out of the question, but did not rule out negotiations for other issues.
Ioannou presented on Tuesday his ministry’s budget for next year to MPs, which is to the tune of €621.9m, a 6.1 per cent rise on the current year. He reiterated that a further raise was not on the table.
“We explained it several times, it was estimated based on real expenditure in the health sector based on an actuarial study, confirmed by the European Bank, there is nothing to evidence the opposite,” he told Cybc radio on Wednesday.
Some of the other issues CyMA brought up, he said, could be discussed.
“With good will there can be convergences on some issues,” Ioannou said.
The minister said he was optimistic that in the end the necessary number of private doctors would agree to join Gesy.
“There are many doctors who want the introduction of the Gesy. Therefore, I believe, that when they are properly informed, because there has been a lot of misinformation within the medical world the last few months, there will be the satisfactory number (of doctors) for the Gesy to be launched,” Ioannou said.
He said that doctors in other countries had also opposed the introduction of national health schemes.
“The majority refused to join at the beginning, but most a year later would agree to participate in the health scheme,” he said.
Ioannou added that many private doctors have already expressed interest in participating in Gesy and that it is a personal and not a collective decision.
“We have a proposal. It is each doctor by themselves who will decide if they will join or not,” he said.
The spokesman of CyMA, Haris Armeftis, said on Wednesday that they would first inform their members and then announce their next steps.
Speaking to Sigma TV, Armeftis said that there was no point continuing talks for the sake of it.
“As long as there is reasonable grounds that we will discuss something substantive, we will go (to dialogue),” he said.
Armeftis said that CyMA was in a tough spot, as based on current data, they are called to “participate in a system that does not secure our basic preconditions”.
“Can they guarantee the quality and viability (of the system)? We can’t,” he said.
The other four demands of CyMA are that private doctors within Gesy should be free to practise outside the system, and called for full administrative and financial autonomy of state hospitals before Gesy is implemented, a guaranteed unit price for specialist doctors involved in outpatient care and for inpatient fees per medical procedure.
The doctors are also asking for a clear explanation and written, legal guarantees which cover the terms under which both private and state doctors take part in Gesy.
Under the government roadmap, contributions for Gesy will begin being collected as of March 2019.
The first phase of the scheme is to be rolled out on June 1 of the same year. This concerns outpatient care provided by personal physicians, specialists, pharmacies and labs.
Gesy will come into full swing as of June 1, 2020 with inpatient care.