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Gesy sabotage claims anger accused parties

Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos

Just days before the House heath committee is set to begin an article-by-article discussion of the regulations concerning the work framework of personal and specialist physicians as well as their fees within Gesy, political parties on Tuesday denied they were trying to sabotage the new health system.

As the dispute over the future of private practices within Gesy began aligning into party camps, socialist Edek denounced reports that its leader Marinos Sizopoulos held a back-door meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades seeking government backing for a legislation amendment in favour of private doctors.

Sizopoulos, himself a dermatologist, is accused of trying to bring an amendment to the Gesy legislation, which would introduce a right for private doctors to continue their medical practice once the scheme is launched ostensibly in a matter of months.

Deputy director of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) Andreas Papakonstantinou said on Tuesday that the organisation “is willing to discuss with private doctors and clinicians the subject of private medical practice within Gesy, but will not be adopting a plan that provides unequal healthcare opportunities to all beneficiaries.”

As deliberations intensify between the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA) and the HIO, the dispute moved into the political arena after former health minister George Pamboridis pointed the finger at Sizopoulos on Sunday, by claiming on Twitter that he was among a group with two other party leaders who were attempting “to overturn Gesy, under the supposed pretext of improvements to the system.”

Pamboridis’ accusations appeared to be confirmed by a parliamentary source who told some media outlets that Sizopoulous, along with Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, had approached Anastasiades, asking that the amendment allowing private practice be backed by the government, with the president replying that the government would not go back on existing arrangements.

In its official response, Edek said the reports “do not correspond with reality and only serve political interests.”

According to the announcement, Sizopoulos only met the president on October 25 after which he informed media that he had expressed reservations regarding Gesy’s viability under the current framework, and his concerns regarding the scheme’s possible economic collapse in the future.

Reiterating claims by the CMA regarding Gesy’s inevitable future failure due to lack of funds and planning, Edek said that under the current framework, “public hospitals run the risk of being sold to private interests.”

On Tuesday, Papadopoulos also rejected through his personal Twitter account his alleged involvement in efforts to alter the current design of Gesy, claiming that “Diko had voted in favour of every Gesy law and budget that has crossed parliament… Gesy must go on.”

In view of the escalating dispute, Pamboridis called out in a tweet on Tuesday the “mediocre to inadequate self-satisfied political opportunists. These are the scourge of our time. Enough. Go home!”

In another tweet on Sunday, Pamboridis claimed that Sizopoulos “went beyond himself to persuade the dermatologists to say a thundering NO to Gesy.” On Tuesday, Edek spokesperson Maria Panayiotou told the Cyprus Mail that this was not true.

Under the government roadmap, contributions for Gesy will begin 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.

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