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Our View: High time to end the HIO’s lack of accountability  

Until a few months ago, most people were unaware that there was a commissioner for the supervision of Gesy. Those that follow the news, would have found out about his existence after he complained some months ago that the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) refused to give him access to its data because, apparently, it was not obliged to do so.

This immediately raised questions about whether the HIO, a public body that controls more than a billion euro of the taxpayers’ money and runs Gesy, had something to hide. What other reason could there be for denying the commissioner with supervisory powers access to data? It may have been a power-play by the HIO directors and executives, a display of their refusal of accountability. It should be said that the commissioner’s main responsibility is not to supervise finances, but to investigate complaints against Gesy.

Christodoulos Kaisis, the commissioner, while maintaining his low profile, has not accepted the cosmetic role the HIO wants him to have. Kaisis, according to a report in Politis, had sought the opinion of the attorney-general who suggested a change in the Gesy legislation and advised the commissioner to submit his amendment proposals to the minister of health.

The main weakness of the existing legislation is that any complaint against Gesy has to be submitted to the HIO. The commissioner has been pointing out for several years that this was an irrational provision of the law, as an individual might not want to submit a complaint to the body or individual that was the subject of his complaint. There was no guarantee the complaint would be dealt with in an objective and impartial way.

Worse still, the law gives the HIO the power to set the regulations for the procedure of submitting complaints and for their investigation by the commissioner. It is beyond absurd for the body under investigation to define the procedure of the investigation against it by the supervising commissioner. It creates a situation in which the supervisor is under the complete control of the body he or she is supposed to supervise and investigate.

The solution to the problem is the amendment of the law so that the council of ministers is given the authority to set the regulations for the submission of complaints and for the investigation procedures the commissioner would follow. There is an independent committee that investigates complaints against the police and the same thinking should apply to the HIO and Gesy.

Although this problem was identified by the commissioner some three years ago, the government has shown no desire to amend the law. It is high time it did so and ended the lack of accountability of the HIO.

 

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