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Friday, February 28, 2014

Health Reforms Crumble when Based on Lies



Press Release
Health Reforms Crumble when Based on Lies

“Cuckolds and beaten, too!  What a destiny” say those wise and savvy street philosophers.  That is the only conclusion for anyone carefully following the public debate concerning the abolition of EOPYY (National Organization of Health Providers), and the fate of its doctors, and supplanting it with PEDY (National Primary Healthcare Network).  But the Greek Minister of Health is up to his old tricks again:  confusing the issue by distortion – about what is happening at EOPYY and generally to the Greek public health system.

We will, once more, lay out the facts and so prove that the Health Minister, Mr. Andonis Georgiadis, is lying systematically and shamelessly – especially about  recent past events.

1)    He has been repeating lately that he had to shut down the general clinics of EOPYY for a month because the doctors and the support staff were on strike.  This is simply a lie.  As of 13 September 2013 he had already announced to journalists that the possibility existed that the country may be without primary health care for the insured. The following day he back-tracked, stating “There won’t be a time without primary health care”.  Which is it?  However you read it, he has been caught with his pants down.  Finally, what he had first declared has indeed happened.
2)    On Tuesday 18 February 2014 he announced on a morning TV show that already some uninsured patients are accepted in the Greek Public Health system an cited the example of insulin patients who had already received their medicine from the hospitals.  But he is still being economical with the truth, because it simply never came to be.  The uninsured diabetics are left on their own.  Those unable to afford their insulin and required supplies (testing tapes, etc) suffer a slow and torturous death.
3)    On the same TV interview he said that all the uninsured patients would be accepted by PEDY, would be allowed to see a doctor and be examined (but not a word about their needed medicines).  We have carefully read all of Law 4238 and especially Government Gazette no. 38(17/02/2014) and uninsured patients are not even mentioned.

Specifically, Article 8 states:

The goal of the National Organization of Health Providers is:

a)    The purchase of health services for the insured, for pensioners as well as their dependent family members, of insurance carriers as defined by Unified Regulations for Health Provision, (Gov. Gazette no. 90380/25916/3294 (Β΄2456) as amended.

The only suggesting that the newly established PEDY will be available to the uninsured is in Article 1 – specifically:

The services of primary health care will be provided equally to every citizen regardless of their economic, social, employment or insured status, and place of residence, through one, universal decentralized National Primary Health Care Network (P.E.D.Y.) organized and operated in accordance with the provisions stated herein.  

There is no reference, anywhere in the law as to what is meant, in practice by UNINSURED patients “regardless of their economic, social, employment or insured status and place of residence”  Of course the Minister could mean that the uninsured will qualify for doctors examinations (by the physicians of PEDY) and NOT for lab work or medication.  It’s not clear what is meant.  But one thing is sure, the uninsured will qualify for piecemeal assistance and that is not of much help (as with the health voucher program).

If you add into the equation the cap on medication that each doctor working with PEDY has to abide by, then things become even more difficult for the insured (let alone the uninsured).  Co-pays will be reduced, and more money will be paid out of pocket.

4) We have stressed repeatedly that a large percentage of the uninsured are completely cut off from access to the Greek Public Health System.  This is resulting in needless deaths, for the sole reason that patients don’t have the money to pay for treatment.  We at MCCH see the results every day with uninsured cancer patients – and others.  Even the insured are experiencing cut-backs in the Greek health system, finding it more difficult to acquire medications.  The most recently publicized example was the case of a seriously sick child on an island.  The local hospital could not supply the medication needed and the Ombudsman stepped in to assist. (source  http://www.synigoros.gr/?i=health-andsocial-welfare.el.farmaka.157736 ).

At our clinic we often see (and accept) insured patients with welfare health booklets, who have been “booted out” by public hospitals, because they don’t have the medication to give them.  The reason for this is that the public hospitals are consistently under-funded with the result that they can’t supply needed medications to their patients.

All of the above clearly shows the unacceptable situation that the Greek Minister of Health is trying to cover up with lies and misstatements.  Every day, the doctors in our clinic deal with the results of these inhumane policies implemented by the Greek public health system.  The patients who are completely cut off from the system come to us (and other volunteer community clinics) to find solutions to their problems.  The lies of the Minister of Health add cruel insult to the injury of those experiencing these tragedies every day.


What has our vocal Minister of Health got to say to this?


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