Sofia, December 3 (BTA) - At an extraordinary plenary sitting on Tuesday, Bulgaria's Parliament passed conclusively the 2020 National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Act. GERB and the United Patriots voted in favour, and BSP for Bulgaria and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) voted against.
At 4,640,733,700 leva, the health insurance revenues are nearly 400 million leva more than in 2019. Of these, 3,107,134,200 leva will come from health insurance contributions (264,880,000 leva more than in 2019) and 1,533,599,000 leva from health insurance transfers.
The budget allocates 2.2 billion leva for hospital care, 244 million leva for primary off-hospital care, nearly 265 for specialist off-hospital care, 1.2 billion leva for medicines, and almost 180,000 leva for dental activities.
The final version of the law provided for an extra 12 million leva for off-hospital care: 6 million leva more for primary off-hospital care, 3 million leva more for specialist off-hospital care, and 3 million leva more for medical diagnostics.
The health insurance contribution rate remains unchanged at 8 per cent.
The total debt of Bulgarian hospitals now approximates 500 million leva, of which 150 million leva are owed to the NHIF.
During the plenary debate, the Left-wing opposition demanded a 4.9 billion leva health insurance budget and moved that medicines for children under 14 should be free of charge as from next year and that the allocation for hospital care should be increased by 5.3 million leva, which could come from a waiver of NHIF's fees paid to the National Revenue Agency.
"As long as hospitals continue to be treated as commercial corporations, the problems in the sector will not be solved," Socialist MP Georgi Mihailov commented.
BSP for Bulgaria also opposed a withdrawal by parliamentary Healthcare Committee Chair Daniela Daritkova MP of GERB of a motion to exclude the financing of essential cancer treatment medicines from the budget framework, arguing that in this way the prices of these medicines will soar and patients will be forced to buy them abroad. Daritkova countered that if this exclusion was kept, it would be tantamount to "signing a blank check for 100 million leva". This made it possible to add 68 million leva to the allocation for medicines for special medical purposes and 31.9 million leva to the financing for cancer medicines.
The majority pushed through a motion enabling children with cancer to continue their free-of-charge treatment after they turn 18. Daritkova argued that this provision will guarantee that the sick children will be able to continue their therapy without changing their status once they attain majority. The opposition, however, saw this as imposing segregation and age discrimination.
Health Minister Kiril Ananiev told journalists that the new healthcare model will be elaborated in 2020 so as to implement it in 2021. He reassured the public that the allocation for medicines for rare diseases and cancer has not been decreased and these medicines will be available to patients. LG