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Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu told the National Forum of Patient Associations yesterday that county public health departments and public health insurance houses would be closed down in the upcoming days. He explained the measure would make important savings to the budget, as county public health departments consumed ten per cent of the funds managed by the Ministry of Health and the health insurance hoses ‘eat up’ a total of 3 per cent of the national health insurance fund, under the Budget Law. ‘We will try to identify resources inside the system by reducing red tape, removing bureaucratic links which, as far as I am concerned, do not belong there anymore, as they are bureaucratic links belonging to the communist system. We are operating with the same deconcentrated structures we had back in 1950’, said the minister. Nicolaescu added that 2013 was the year of major health changes, explaining he had the political support needed for all the measures he was planning. The Health Minister said he did not want to finance civil servants ‘to kill patients with bureaucracy’ any more. Instead, he wants to fund ‘health programmes’, claiming that the Health Insurance House workers have caused a lot of distress, have been persecuting patients, and that is why he had decided to send them home. Some 8,000 people work at county public health departments and health insurance organisations. Government adviser Vasile Cepoi said yesterday the draft law on the reorganisation of county health insurance houses and public health departments was for now with the Ministry of Health, having not been presented in the Government or submitted for public debate, The Government still waiting for a concrete proposal. Asked if the system could still operate without the two institutions, Cepoi said their work could be taken over by a different type of institutions. The Sanitas Federation has announced that it would ask the Ministry of Health to sign an agreement to safeguard the reorganisation of county public health departments and health insurance bodies only after consultations with the federation and that savings made would be redistributed back into the system. Sanitas First Vice President Marius Sepi told Mediafax he was worried about the declared intention of the Ministry of Health to reorganise public health departments and county health insurance bodies. The President of Buzau Public Health Insurance House, Cornel Vasilescu, told Mediafax the measure announced by Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu could not be done ‘overnight’ as it takes time and the idea to set up regional institutions was not an inspired one while the country is still not divided into regions. The head of Mures Health Insurance House, Monica Suciu, in turn said she had learnt about the closing of the institution from TV, adding she did not know ‘what system would be put in its place and how that would operate’. She also said tens of people queue at the institution every day for various enquiries. Public Health Department and Health Insurance House officials in Galati say they have not been formally informed about a Health Ministry decision to close down the institutions and that such a measure would not make the system more cost-effective.