Czech lower house to override presidential veto on state healthcare contributions

Czech President Miloš Zeman has vetoed the bill that would cut state health care payments, but govt. intends to override the veto.


Written by ČTK Published on 08.08.2022 18:48:00 (updated on 08.08.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, Aug 8 (ČTK) - Czech President Miloš Zeman has vetoed a bill that would cut state health care payments for state-insured persons to last year's level, the Presidential Office announced to ČTK today.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, will now move to override the presidential veto at the lower house session in September.

"The approved legislative change threatens the maintaining of the quality and accessibility of health care and does not deal with its necessary improvement in any way," Zeman wrote in his explanation of the veto to lower house head Markéta Pekarová Adamová.

Zeman also pointed out that the Czech Medical Chamber and health insurance companies have reservations about the planned reduction of insurance payments.

Pekarová Adamová and other Czech government representatives dismissed the view that lowering state contribution to public health insurance would have such a critical impact.

Finance Minister Zbyňek Stanjura has confirmed the reserves of health insurance companies, which grew to CZK 57.5 billion by the end of April, are strong enough to support the change.

Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek called today's move by the head of state a mistake, tweeting that the misstep can be corrected by the House majority.

"Therefore, we are overriding the President's veto and will enforce a transparent, stable, and predictable system of payments for state-insured persons together with higher funds for prevention," Válek tweeted in response to Zeman's veto.

The Chamber of Deputies will now move to override the presidential veto. The Ministry of Finance stated later adoption of the measure means a shortfall of 2.8 billion in the budget.

With its amendment to the law on health insurance, the government aims to cut CZK 14 billion from the 2022 state budget. The state currently covers health insurance payments on behalf of 5.9 million people or 56 percent of all of the insured persons in the 10.5-million country, particularly for children, pensioners, the unemployed, and the majority of students.

State payments represent roughly a quarter of the Czech public insurance system's income.

The majority of these contributions are spent on medical treatment in hospitals and allocated to treatment for children, the elderly, and the unemployed.

Stanjura said the previous decision to raise payments for those with public health insurance was based on a pessimistic projection of the health insurance system deficit at over CZK 50 billion last year, which did not occur.

After the first six months of the year, the public health insurance system had a surplus of about CZK 6.5 billion, he said.

Since January, the state has been paying CZK 1,967 monthly for each insured person, CZK 200 more than the last year's monthly payment. Under the vetoed amendment, the monthly payments would drop to CZK 1,497 in the last five months of the year meaning the state would pay into the public health insurance system roughly the same as in 2021.

Although government representatives insist that insurance companies have sufficient reserves, some experts predict that rising inflation and a significant increase in costs could drain these reserves, and less money would come to the healthcare sector.

While patients may not feel the cuts in healthcare this year, those in the healthcare industry are questioning what will happen next year.

"Healthcare facilities would be the first to feel it in their finances, and the due date of insurance companies' invoices to healthcare facilities would be extended. It could have a secondary effect on patients: by delaying planned procedures," Eduard Solich, director of the Association of Czech and Moravian Hospitals told Denik N.

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