Hungary opens public debate on “Green Book”
Thursday, July 27, 2006, 10:23
The government yesterday published a “Green book” that summarizes health-care problems and proposes possible solutions, Health Minister Lajos Molnár said at a Budapest press conference. People have until Aug. 31 to comment. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's government plans to overhaul public administration, education, health care and pensions as part of a plan to slash the European Union's biggest budget. Gyurcsány’s Socialist Party and Molnár's Free Democrats made health reform a top issue in the election campaign this year. “Now we can act,” Molnár said. “This government is committed to go through with the reform. Those who say no to it are either unfamiliar with the situation or lack the courage to do something about it.” Issues in the “Green book” range from the introduction of a fee for doctor's visits, to shutting down small countryside hospitals, to making health-care industry performance records public and to overhauling drug price subsidies, Molnár said.
Fidesz says that the acts of the “Green book” would mean a lethal stab to the health care system of Hungary. András Csáky (MDF) says that there are not many new thoughts and ideas in the “Green book” compared to the things have been published in the media before.
Due to legal hurdles, Hungary was to scrap the idea of hospital “bed fee" and would instead collect Ft 500 a day for meals, the “Green book”, a package of experts' proposals submitted to the government, said. Suggestions include Ft 300-Ft 600 “visitation fee". The introduction of this measure is hoped to bleach the stain of doctors' Ft 60-Ft 80 billion under-the-table money annually. While the ceiling in regular care would be Ft 6,000 a year, depending on the institution and type of examinations, Ft 300-Ft 2,500 may be billed for every outpatient visit, 60% of which would remain at the institution and 40% would go to the health fund. (Portfolio, Bloomberg)