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Health More Important Than Budget Balance, Says Patients Group

Source: Photo: ERR

The Estonian Patients Advocacy Council says the government should act more like Ireland when it comes to national health care.

In a November 4 statement rejecting last week's proposal from the Hospitals Association to raise money for health care by increasing patient copayments, the council referred to health care funding by countries with higher budget deficits.

"Instead of starting to direct additional resources into health care in order to improve the availability of medical care similarly to Ireland, which recently had one of Europe's highest budget deficits but which is roughly on the same scale as Estonia, the government has used health care funding to maintain budget balance. The government will not find money for improving availability of health care service," the Patients Advisory Council said in a statement to the media.

The council said Ireland had invested 280,000 euros into health care in the last five months - something that was approved of by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

"The fact that the IMF, known as one of the world's most stringent financial institutions, approved the investment into health care by a country in very difficult financial straits renders the claims of Estonian government representatives hollow and empty," the statement said.

The council accused the government of "simply not wanting to deal substantively with the issue."

The Hospitals Association requested on Friday that the Ministry of Social Affairs raise copayment fees for doctor's visits from 3.20 to 5 euros for outpatients and from 1.60 euros to 2.50 euros for inpatients.

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