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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/2007-10-04_P...

by A.R.

State Health Insurance Fund presidents oppose health care franchises

Translated Wednesday 24 October 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

Labor – the Economy.
Health care. The presidents of eight state health insurance funds in the South of France have issued a communiqué describing the government’s 2008 measures to finance social security as “an illusion” and a “trick.”

Toulouse, by our local correspondent.

The unusual step taken by the presidents of the eight state health insurance funds in the French département of Midi-Pyrénées, of the regional health insurance fund, and of the regional union of health insurance funds – the issuing of a joint communiqué – is a good indication of the worry and exasperation they feel concerning the financing and even the basis of social security in France.

Following a meeting held on Friday September 28 in Montauban in southern France, the presidents issued a joint communiqué sharply denouncing the measures put forward by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his administration in the bill providing for the financing of social security in 2008. “Some of the proposed measures, besides making the people pay, yet again, most of the debt burden, also constitute a serious attack on the founding principles of social security,” they say. They then restate the basic principle: “Each person pays according to his means and receives according to his needs.”

The presidents are particularly targeting the introduction of franchises, which “seriously violate this principle of solidarity, given that the franchises will only be paid by ill people.” They judge the proposal to be “economically inefficient” and “socially unjust and intolerable.” They add that the attempt to persuade people that these measures will make it possible to solve the problems posed by an aging population “is, at best, an illusion, at worst, a trick.”

The presidents of the eight state health insurance funds feel that the approach of “charging payments with reference to income” reinforces the insurance aspect and “eliminates the solidarity of those who are in good health with those who are ill.” This is why they strongly oppose the measures which, “under cover of making health care recipients more responsible,” “will either increase the share paid out of pocket by people who are covered by social security (which is already very large: they or their supplementary medical insurance are already responsible for paying 34 billion euros), or will dissuade some people from getting the health care they need.” While acknowledging the “serious financing problems” that the social security system has been facing for a number of years now, and without forgetting that health care needs will grow along with life expectancy, they reject “any attempt to guilt trip exclusively people who are covered by social security.” The only genuine solution, they stress in the joint communiqué, lies “in putting a balanced share of responsibility on all of those involved and in guaranteeing the quality of medical treatments and practices, based on scientific recommendations and on an evaluation of professional practices.”

Expressing their worry in view of the great and growing social inequality in France, the presidents insist on the need for more solidarity. “Our health care system,” they conclude, “must be mainly dedicated to providing everyone with equal access to quality health care, no matter what social class a person may belong to or where he may live.”

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