NEWS

2-bln-euro bailout for hospitals

For the third time in seven years, the public coffers are to shoulder the massive debts of Greece’s public hospitals, the government said yesterday. An Inner Cabinet meeting decided to write off, by the end of next month, some 2 billion euros in debts accrued by hospitals over the past three years, while at the same time pledging to reform the hospital procurements system. The necessary funds will be drawn from the state budget. «We are betting that in the future the debts will be lower and will eventually be eliminated, instead of growing anew in order to be covered by the budget once again,» Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis told journalists. He said some 1.2 billion euros of the hospitals’ obligations had resulted from social insurance funds not honoring their own debts to hospitals – which mainly arise from subsidized medicine prescriptions. However, Kaklamanis stressed that the funds would not be summoned to pay their own debts. In 1997, the government paid some 569 million euros’ worth of hospital debts, and a further 1.05 billion in 2001.