HEALTHCARE

Cracks show inside PP over government's plans to curtail healthcare

Galicia party chief questions fee for immigrants

Madrid -
Galicia's Núñez Feijóo.
Galicia's Núñez Feijóo.EFE

Galician regional premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo said Monday that he is "not in favor of reducing the medical care" to undocumented migrants, although he is still prepared to take a good look at the Health Ministry's proposal and determine what the consequences would be in his region.

Núñez Feijóo is the most senior Popular Party (PP) politician to have so far expressed doubts about the scheme floated by the PP-run national government to charge illegal migrants for using the national healthcare system.

Last Monday, the Health Ministry announced its plan to start charging undocumented migrants 710 euros annually for healthcare, and so far, the response has been vocal and largely negative. Seniors over the age of 65 would be expected to pay double, whilst pregnant women, minors and those with refugee status will continue to pay nothing.

Several doctors' associations and regions, including Catalonia, have defiantly vowed to continue treating the undocumented migrants who cannot pay if the new law was passed.

"Before taking a decision, I will wait and see if there is any legal flexibility, and from there we'll decide our course of action," said Núñez Feijóo, who was once the president of the National Health Institute.

His former health adviser, and current secretary, Pilar Farjas, is a supporter of the plan. However, in his opinion, it would be more proper to put some checks in place to regulate spending on medicine and other costs.

In Murcia, the PP health commissioner, María Ángeles Palacios, said last week that the government would have to look for alternatives to ensure that migrants, who are infected with HIV, have cancer or need dialysis, will continue to get their treatments.

In any case, Núñez Feijóo pointed out the hypocrisy in speaking "first, of the illegal immigrant" and then saying that "the illegal must be equal to the legal."

Illegals go home

PP Deputy Rafael Hernando of Almeria said that it was "sarcastic" to ask for "free" healthcare for foreign citizens who do not have their papers in order, reiterating that "illegal migrants must return to their countries of origin."

But Núñez Feijóo felt the need to stress that "this is the European Union and there are rules, and there are countries like Germany and Austria where this would be a non-issue.

"If you do not carry an EU identity card, you have to pay and we are not even illegal in these countries, but merely tourists."

He went on to say that "Spain is one of the few countries in the EU where medical attention is not denied to those in life-threatening situations," whilst "in the majority of countries around the world, a man who does not have the right to medical treatment will not be attended to whether he pays or not."

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