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Gov't does not plan fee-paying healthcare system

Main opposition Fidesz's candidate deputy prime minister István Mikola asked Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány in an open letter on Thursday whether he planned to introduce a fee-paying healthcare system in Hungary.  

Mikola, who was health minister under the Orbán government, was referring to an earlier remark by Finance Minister János Veres, who said that in order to cut the finance deficit needed to introduce the euro by 2010, the government must carry out healthcare reform, including creating a direct link between social security contributions and health-care services and adopting a co-financing system, in which patients may be required to pay for certain services.

"No" was the short answer the government spokesperson gave to the questions contained in Mikola's letter.

Mikola asked whether, should the MSZP-SZDSZ coalition continue to govern after April elections, patients would have to pay for GP check-ups and prescriptions and whether hospitals would be closed down. Fidesz plans no hospital closures, only structural changes at hospitals, Mikola said. Veres had noted that Ft 700 billion must be saved in the central budget by 2008 in order to push the deficit below 3% of GDP, a criteria for euro-adoption.