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New plan to be sent to private hospitals (Update 2)

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HIO chairman Stavros Michael said he was positive all hospitals will sign the final agreement, stressing that the organisation has no sustainability problems.

The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) sent a revised health care provider agreement to private hospitals on Friday, after they refused to renew their contract over payment terms.

A crisis within the national health scheme (Gesy) resulting from the exit of the 70 private hospitals will be averted if an agreement is reached within the month.

According to the board of directors, the new proposal comes closer to the positions of the private hospitals and creates conditions for reaching an agreement. It was agreed upon during the board’s meeting on Thursday evening.

The move comes after the Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev), as well as its member Pasin representing private health care providers, refused to sign a new contract with the agency that runs Gesy. They said no mention was made in their contract about compensation while discussions about their remuneration for inpatient cases in hospitals, based on quality criteria, has not been completed.

The HIO has said the heart of the issue lies with the fact that private and state hospitals are compensated differently.

For their part, Okypy argued that public hospitals offer a variety of services which are often loss-making – so they should be compensated fairly. As examples of specialised services offered by public hospitals but not by private facilities, Okypy cited the Aids clinic, the transplant clinic, the tissue compatibility lab, and the neonatal intensive care unit.

“It was a little indirect threat that if some hospitals left the system, they might have problems. We don’t think there is that issue,” Michael said after HIO’s meeting with the president.

Saying that the hospitals will receive the final proposal from the organisation on Friday, he added he was 99.9 per cent sure that all hospitals will sign it.

The current contract will expire on August 31. Hence, HIO had given private hospitals from August 7 to August 31 to sign on to a new contract, which take effect on September 1.

The trade union and Oev have called for state intervention and equal treatment of private and public hospitals, warning that this could leave Gesy in limbo.

But later in the day, the HIO chairman said the latest announcement by Oev aimed to simply apply pressure to conclude the payment negotiations.

Based on the data and estimations, there is no sustainability problem in the organisation, he said, and this is what they told the president in their meeting. Part of the discussion was also the introduction of quality criteria as of next month and efforts to deter personal doctors issuing too many referrals as well as addressing the long waiting lists for various tests.

Amidst the dispute, President Nikos Christodoulides requested the main financial priorities from the state health services organisation (Okypy) by October 15 after his meeting with the organisation.

During the meeting at the presidential palace on Friday, the organisation’s compensation agreement for the public health and general economic interest services it provides was discussed, said its General Director Kypros Stavrides without providing further details.

He added that the president promised to address the issue of the volumes of services that should be given to the organisation through the agreement with the HIO regarding inpatient care.

Meanwhile, the organisation also informed the president about its intention to request for an extension of the government grant until 2026 to complete the reform programme that started with its establishment and could not be achieved mainly due to the pandemic.

“I find that in general the President is very supportive of everything we have said,” he said, adding that he wants them to be focused on specific goals with specific timelines. Stavrides said they were committed to doing so.

Stavrides said he also updated the president about the effort to upgrade the hospitals’ equipment and the services provided. He noted that tenders have already been awarded for projects that will start in autumn, while projects such as the Paphos general hospital’s dialysis unit are being completed. To this end, a significant amount of money has been used from the recovery and resilience plan.

Furthermore, he said the organisation is moving forward with important actions such as patient experience, certification, and accreditation of hospitals at all levels and digital transition. These moves, he explained, will also help to reduce operating costs, and will contribute to the financial health of the organisation in the future.

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