Catalan health chief floats obligatory insurance plan

Commissioner proposes system for those on certain incomes to contract private health insurance

The commissioner for health in the Catalan government, Boi Ruiz, on Tuesday proposed introducing a system for Spain as a whole that would require those over a certain income level to contract private health insurance only for the regional government to knock down the idea hours later.

Cash-strapped Catalonia has cut spending on healthcare by reducing services and personnel as it seeks to trim the shortfall in its books and meet the deficit target set by the central government for the country's regions. The belt-tightening measures have sparked widespread protests among healthcare workers.

"We would be in favor of a basic obligatory private healthcare insurance policy for those with a certain level of income," Ruiz said at a seminar.

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Shortly afterward, the regional health department issued a statement denying the government was considering such a proposal. "Under no circumstances did Ruiz say the Catalan government is considering a funding model of these characteristics for public health services in Catalonia," the statement said.

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