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Monday, January 27, 2014

Yet Another Obstacle For The Uninsured And Impoverished


Helliniko - 27 January 2014




Press Release
Yet Another Obstacle For The Uninsured And Impoverished


Another hurdle for the destitute and uninsured in Greece.  We have been trying to do something positive, to allow a ray of sunshine to make the life of our fellow citizens more tolerable, but sometimes it seems for every step forward there are two steps back.  The government has added yet another difficulty to the long list of obstacles for the uninsured and the poorest of our fellow citizens.

Until now, those who were the poorest and who had an extremely small or no income, were not obliged to file a tax return, but simply had to affirm that they were below a certain income.  Now they must file.  Further, they must file on-line (as is now obligatory for all filing with the tax services)

What does this mean?  It means that a large number of people without resources, who have serious problems, who are (often) not that far from living on the street, must find a way to register on-line, set up an account and password to fulfill their obligations.  We’re talking about people who often don’t have electric power in their homes - let alone access to the internet.  And it goes without saying that they don’t have the money to pay an accountant to perform this service for them.  And to top it all off, if they are overdue on these obligations, they are heavily fined.

So, what are the consequences of these rulings?  These people cannot now have an unemployment card issued, and therefore cannot renew a booklet that certifies they are indigent.  They cannot apply for a minimal pension from OGA (a pension fund) or welfare services.  In other words, they are in an even worse situation than they were in 2013, when they had at least some minimum benefits.

We’ve already had patients come into the clinic, mystified as to why their booklets have not been renewed and surprised to learn that they have to make a tax return, when they have no income to declare.  They know they are indigent, but are bewildered as to why they cannot document it.  We will soon be overwhelmed by such cases.


It is a fair question as to why the government takes such inhuman measures; why does it choose to erect insurmountable bureaucratic obstacles?  A measure which theoretically will make life easier is going to leave many COMPLETELY destitute and miserable and will make access to even the most rudimentary welfare assistance and the health system impossible. 

METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLENIKO 

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