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May 8, 2021

First civil society-PDL consultations on new health draft bill

Medical world figures maintain that what the drafting of the health draft bill needs is a transparent approach, and that the bill could not be put into practice before 2020.

By     Daniela Baragan

The Government has issued a call to arms. The ‘predictable” move of reconfirming Raed Arafat as health subsecretary was followed by the government’s attempt at putting an end to the social tensions in the past couple of days. Yesterday marked the start of Democratic Liberal Party-originated topical consultations  with delegates of the Bucharest Association of General Practitioners, the National Association for Patient Protection and the Doctors’ College. PDL First Vice-President Teodor Baconschi, who represents the party at the talks, has out of the blue become quite inclined to dialogue. “We have agreed for certain ethical, basic, principles to be reflected in the law – such as ensuring equality in patient care. There are some basic concepts, including the basic medical service package, that need to be negotiated with all the actors in the system,” Mediafax quoted Baconschi as saying after the talks. He added that, in the consultations, “some relevant comparisons” had been made over the GDP quota allocated to the health sector in the other European states. “(…) we started out quite low in 1989, with just nearly USD 30 per capita. Today’s public health financing gap between this country and other states is 1/10,” Baconschi said.

Turning to the drafting of the new health draft bill, the Democrat-Liberal said the process needs to be a transparent one. “We rely on the authority of Prof. Cepoi, <freshly appointed state secretary>, but also on the process including all the actors from the civil society, and the medical system as well. There is a rather dense associative network, and also a portal were medical assistants may contribute to the drawing up of the best possible draft bill,” the minister explained, who added that drafting a legislative proposal is a “transpartisan issue”, (…) without an ideological hue, an issue of general public interest.” On the other hand, he outlined the general dissatisfaction towards the quality of medical services, making the point that reforming the system is tied to the “management of financial resources”. Former health minister and current Doctors’ College delegate Mircea Cinteza, who also attended the session, said that the drafting of the new health draft bill calls for transparency, competent people able to express issues, to debate and provide solutions. “We must be very pragmatic. We should not be image-minded,” Cinteza said, who added that people accept restrictions as inherent in a poor country, as far as they are not humiliated. “They should not be humiliated,” he explained.

For his part, Ioan Lazar, president of the Bucharest Doctors’ College (CMB), said that reforming the health system cannot be a fast-track action, and gave a target year close to 2020 as most likely. While he admits the Romanian health system is “seriously deteriorating”, he views the use of the word “collapse” to describe the system as an overstatement. “I don’t think there are many people who doubt that health system reform is a super-acute necessity,’ the CMB president said.

Boc: I and the President had wrong information over the health law

Premier Emil Boc tried to somehow mend his ways, saying on a B1 TV program Tuesday evening that the health draft bill was withdrawn from public debate on grounds of “not exactly accurate” information over some aspects in the document. “With respect to certain aspects, we haven’t got the best information, including that with respect to Dr. Raed Arafat. Today <Tuesday>, things cleared up, between the president and Raed Arafat, and between me and Raed Arafat,: Boc said. Aside from “miscommunication and the lack of time due to the crisis not allowing enough time for each the measures passed to be thoroughly examined, the PM acknowledged  he too should also take blame for the miscommunication, but also said the president too is not “perfect” in this respect. “I must admit I haven’t always communicated the best way possible and, maybe, this time of crisis too has not allowed us to find enough time to look into each issue and each measure the most thorough way possible,” Boc said.

Arafat: I’m not interested to enter politics, either now or in future

Raed Arafat being reconfirmed as health sub-secretary “fired” the Democrat-Liberals’ imagination, who see him as a likely opponent to Sorin Oprescu in the race for Bucharest mayor. “The Arafat phenomenon clearly shows the civil society’s hunger for professionals, experts and upright people in each field. Dr. Raed Arafat’s reputation and credibility recommend him as a very good uninominal voting candidate, maybe even an opponent to Dr. Sorin Oprescu as Bucharest’s mayor,” PDL Vice-president Mihaela Popa said in a press release. The state subsecretary nonetheless replied he shows no interested in politics, either now or in future. “I’ve said it before and I repeat it, I’m not interested in politics, either now or in future. I would like everybody to understand this message. I have no intention to enter politics,” Arafat said. Asked whether the PDL were to propose Arafat as a candidate for general mayor of Bucharest, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi answered that, as far as he knows, Arafat “has already made it rather clear he won’t get into politics”.

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