French MPs vote healthcare cost cuts

20th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 20 (AFP) - France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, on Tuesday approved on first reading a government plan to overhaul the country's heavily indebted health insurance system.

PARIS, July 20 (AFP) - France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, on Tuesday approved on first reading a government plan to overhaul the country's heavily indebted health insurance system.  

President Jacques Chirac's ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) voted for the measure. Its junior partner in government, the Union for French Democracy (UDF) was split, while the Socialist-led left voted against the bill.  

The legislation now goes to the upper-house Senate.  

The text includes a raft of cost-cutting measures to check the health care system's spiralling deficit, which is expected to hit EUR 12.9 billion (USD 16 billion) this year.  

The plan asks patients to pay EUR 1 per medical consultation, encourages the use of generic drugs and cracks down on sick leave abuse.  

It calls for the use of computerized records as a way to trace a patient's medical history and pinpoint possible abuses such as over-prescription of drugs.  

The initiative also asks patients to choose a specific physician as their primary care provider or risk receiving lower reimbursements.  

When he presented the plan in May, French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the centre-right government hoped the initiative would generate between EUR 15 billion and EUR 16 billion in annual savings.  

The minister said he also hoped to stave off the creation of a "two-speed" system in a country that prides itself on quality health care.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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