Katrin Rehemaa, secretary general of the Estonian Medical Association, said that healthcare professionals acknowledge the government's decision to allocate additional funding to healthcare but the association needs to see concrete numbers before giving a final opinion.
"We definitely acknowledge the government for making that decision," Rehemaa told BNS. "Previous governments have not even thought about it for the past ten years."
The secretary general said that it was positive that a more long-term mechanism has been put into place so that there is no need to apply for additional sums each year. "It is definitely a good decision in that regard," she said.
Regarding the question of specific figures, however, Rehemaa said that there was still too little information upon which to provide an evaluation. "As there are new responsibilities being assigned to the Health Insurance Fund, we would like to receive more information," she explained, noting that following this, they would be able to better evaluate the sums involved. "But overall we are positive," she added.
In light of the government's decision, Rehemaa said that there was now an increased likelihood that the healthcare officials' strike planned for May 15 would be canceled. "The final decision will be made by our council and everything should be clear by the end of next week," she said.
The government on Wednesday reached an agreement on Estonia's budget strategy for the 2018-2021 period which will form the basis of the state's financial plans for the next four years.
Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski said that €215 million are to be allocated to healthcare over the next four years. "The government has decided to contribute to healthcare on behalf of non-working pensioners," he said. "This is definitely one of the most important decisions of the current government, as it resolves the long-standing issue of the underfunding of the healthcare system."
According to the minister, by 2022, the Health Insurance Fund's additional funding will reach 13 percent of the pensions of old-age pensioners, which will provide the fund an additional €100 million. "€37 million of additional funding will be allocated to healthcare next year already," he continued. "The additional resources will be used to shorten waiting lists, which will ensure faster access to services to the people of Estonia."
In addition, the Health Insurance Fund will gradually take over the operation of healthcare services previously financed from the state budget, including first aid and the treatment and prevention of HIV and substance abuse.
Editor: Aili Vahtla