Private hospitals and the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) held what appeared to be a productive exchange on Thursday, although both sides stressed there was still some way to go until hospitals agree to join the national health scheme, Gesy.

The meeting was the first since Pasin, the association of private hospitals and clinics, accepted, in principle, a framework agreement put to it by HIO, which administers Gesy

HIO head Thomas Antoniou said no negotiations took place on Thursday, but clarifications were provided on a number of issues raised by Pasin. A follow-up meeting has been scheduled for Monday.

Antoniou explained that the framework agreement was merely a jumping-off point and it was hoped it would lead to separate negotiations with each hospital.

Only when Pasin as a whole was satisfied with the HIO’s vision of how private healthcare facilities would operate inside Gesy, would the association adopt the framework deal. However not all members of Pasin are bound to accept the framework. Those that do, must indicate their acceptance by February 14.

Once that is done, it would pave the way for each hospital or clinic to enter give-and-take talks with the HIO. Assuming individual hospitals eventually agree to join Gesy, they would strike up separate agreements with the HIO.

“There is much to talk about yet,” Antoniou said.

Earlier this week the health ministry pledged €70m, to grease the skids for private hospitals being wooed to join the second phase of Gesy, set to be introduced this simmer.

The €70m in government guarantees are intended to cover financial costs of private hospitals clinics in the event the HIO runs out of money.

According to Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, the €70m would be paid only to cover possible deficits likely to emerge in implementing what has been agreed between the HIO and Pasin on in-patient care for the years 2021 and 2022.

The move has been criticized by Nicolas Papadopoulos, head of the Diko party, who likened Gesy to a taxpayer money sink.

“The government used to plug the deficits of state hospitals, and now it will be financing the deficits of private hospitals,” he charged on Thursday.

Responding, Ioannou said the €70m was merely a ‘cushion’, a contingency in the event private hospitals sustain deficits in the years 2021 and 2022.

The €70m must be approved by parliament.

 

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