The government is attempting to ease the strain on the nation’s overcrowded hospitals by passing intensive-care patients on to private health centers and offering to foot the bill. The Health Ministry said yesterday that, as of next month, patients covered by public insurance may be hospitalized at one of 73 beds available in intensive care units belonging to private hospitals. In the Attica region alone, some 20 patients must be hospitalized daily in intensive care units, figures show. Greece’s decrepit hospital system has long been a hot-button issue for politicians. Consecutive governments have failed to rehabilitate the costly and corrupt healthcare system. Earlier this year, the conservative government pushed ahead with hospital system reforms to try to reduce the number of patients treated on gurneys. Union groups disagreed with yesterday’s decision, saying the government would save money by opening more intensive care units rather than contracting the work out to private hospitals.