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Cyprus Health

HIO staff ‘could get inpatient care through the state’ but want private coverage (Update)

STAFF from the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) will be going on a two-hour strike on Friday as an expression of their grievances relating to their medical coverage.

In a statement, the HIO said the work stoppage will last from 9am to 11am. During this time, services provided by the HIO’s head offices on Klimentos Street, Nicosia, will not be available.

However, services provided via the Gesy service centre (by phone on 17000 or via email at [email protected]) will be available normally.

On Thursday, the Disy parliamentary group urged HIO staff, complaining over lack of medical coverage, to request their inclusion in the civil servants’ health scheme.

They, however, want coverage via the private sector.

The ruling party’s parliamentary spokesman, Nicos Tornaritis, sent a letter to the head of HIO, Thomas Antoniou, urging him to suggest to the House health committee to release the funds from the HIO’s 2019 budget necessary for the inclusion of the organisation’s staff to the civil servants’ health scheme, which provides for inpatient and outpatient care in state hospitals.

Tornaritis said Disy would back that request at the House.

Disy’s intervention follows an announcement by the unions for HIO staff that their members would go on a two-hour work stoppage on Friday morning over the reluctance of their employer to offer them inpatient medical coverage since that part of the budget for 2019 has not been released yet by parliament.

The employees said that for months they and their families have lived in uncertainty since they are uninsured as regards inpatient care until the Gesy inpatient system begins in June 2020. In the meantime, the HIO employees want group coverage for services from the private sector, not public hospitals.

According to the Disy parliamentary group however, “all must receive equal treatment,” Tornaritis said in his letter.

Tornaritis’ letter comes after the head of the House health committee, Disy MP Costas Constantinou, said on Wednesday that the HIO staff were urged in the past to just send a letter to the health minister and ask to be included as all civil servants in the government health scheme, but they refused.

“Unfortunately, they don’t want to,” Constantinou told state broadcaster CyBC.

He added that the HIO staff argue they work for a semi-government organisation.

Had they sent the letter to the health minister, he said, their request would have been granted for inpatient care at hospitals in the interim.

“Why this insistence?” he asked, arguing that this sends out the “wrong message to society.”

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