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The Catalan Health Minister considers the Spanish Government’s measures to cut spending “to be insufficient”

The Spanish Minister of Health met with her counterparts from the Autonomous Communities to discuss measures to reduce healthcare spending by €7 billion. Pensioners will have to pay for 10% of their medication, with a maximum of between €8 and €18 per month depending on their income. Furthermore, people with a job will have to pay for 40% to 60% of the price, depending on their income. Besides, the number of pills will better adapt to prescriptions, drug purchases will be centralised and generic drug prescriptions will be fostered. Catalonia might not eliminate the drug prescription fee although the final decision will be taken once the impact of measures is fully studied. The Catalan Minister also emphasised that the main problem in Catalonia is “the system’s funding” and not expenditure, which cannot be further reduced.


19 April 2012 12:28 AM


ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Madrid (ACN).- On Monday, it was education and on Wednesday, it was healthcare. In just three days the measures to save \u20AC10 billion in those two areas throughout Spain have been detailed. The Spanish Government\u2019s plan foresees a spending reduction of \u20AC7 billion in health, and \u20AC3 billion in education, two areas directly managed by the Autonomous Communities. The Spanish Minister for Health, Ana Mato, met today with her counterparts from the Autonomies in Madrid to discuss the measures to reduce health spending. According to the Catalan Health Minister, Boi Ruiz, they are \u201Cneeded and appropriate\u201D but \u201Cinsufficient\u201D, since they only focus on reducing spending, but not on increasing the funding sources. Ruiz added that Catalonia has already been cutting healthcare spending over the past year and a half, and that they \u201Ccannot go further\u201D. The main measure announced on Wednesday means Spaniards will pay more money for their medication. For the first time retired people will have to pay for 10% of the price, with a limit of between \u20AC8 or \u20AC18 per month depending on their income. People without an income or with a very low income will not have to pay. Furthermore, workers will have to pay between 40% and 60%, depending on their wage, when previously they paid for 40% of the price. In total, it would represent saving \u20AC1.2 billion. Besides, the number of pills per package will be reduced and better adapted to treatment time. In addition, drug purchases will be centralised among all the Autonomies to reduce costs. These two measures would save \u20AC1.5 billion. Furthermore, health access for foreigners would be better controlled to avoid bad usage, in order to save \u20AC1 billion. Another measure would be harmonising the services offered by the different Autonomies in order to create a minimum standard of basic services. It would save \u20AC500 million. Finally, the last \u20AC3.5 billion would come by fostering the prescription of generic drugs and improving energy efficiency in health centres.

Despite the measures announced on Wednesday, some Autonomies such as Catalonia have already implemented austerity measures to balance its healthcare budget, in order to reduce spending and increasing funds. One of the last measures adopted by the Catalan Government is the drug prescription fee, which will be in place from next June. Roughly, people will have to pay \u20AC1 for each drug prescription, with limitations and exclusions for pensioners and people on low incomes.  In fact, the Catalan Minister for Health said at the end of Wednesday\u2019s meeting that his department will carefully study the impact of the proposed measures to decide if the drug prescription fee is to be eliminated. \u201CWe will look to see if these measures represent an additional effort by Catalan citizens [\u2026], because, in Catalonia, we cannot make greater efforts to reduce healthcare costs in Catalonia\u201D, he said. Ruiz assessed the measures proposed by the Spanish Health Ministry \u201Cto be insufficient\u201D, since \u201Cat least in Catalonia\u201D, the effort need to be put on finding additional funding to the system.

Healthcare spending already reduced in Catalonia

Healthcare spending in Catalonia has already been reduced over the last year and a half. Ruiz emphasised that now Catalonia\u2019s needs to find additional funding for the healthcare system, as no additional spending reductions can be made. \u201CWe have already made the maximum effort to adjust spending and it cannot go further\u201D, he said. Therefore, \u201Cwhat is needed are decisions on how to fund the system\u201D, which could come as taxes or other formulas, he said. According to Ruiz, the measures announced on Wednesday are \u201Cneeded and appropriate\u201D but \u201Cinsufficient\u201D to \u201Chold on to a healthcare system that has its main problem in its funding sources, not in its spending\u201D.

The main measure proposed

Retired people will now have to pay for 10% of the price, when earlier they were totally excluded. Those earning more than \u20AC18,000 per year will pay a maximum of \u20AC18 per month, and those earning less than this amount, \u20AC8 per month. However, people receiving non-contributory pensions, the minimum insertion income, or jobless people without grants will not have to pay for medication. In addition, people with a job will pay between 40% and 60%, depending on their wage. Earlier they only had to pay for 40% of the price. This way, people earning less than \u20AC18,000 per year will only pay for 40% of the price at the pharmacy. Those earning more will pay for half of the price, and those earning more than \u20AC100,000 will pay for 60% of the price.  


  • Ana Mato (with green jacket) and her Autonomies' counterparts (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

  • Ana Mato (with green jacket) and her Autonomies' counterparts (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)