Medical tourism in Spain?

Healthcare is set to be a major issue in this upcoming election race, writes our man in Madrid, Mario Alegria

LAST UPDATED: 17 Sep, 2015 @ 20:43
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STRIFE is quickly growing within the PP. This time it’s over whether regional governments have the right to offer illegal migrants universal healthcare in defiance of central government restrictions.

surgeryA few weeks ago, a top Health Ministry official told Congress that at least four regions, where the PP doesn’t hold the majority, could be punished for passing regulations that allow undocumented residents to be given health cards.

In 2010, the Rajoy administration disallowed illegal migrants from tapping into the public health system unless it is an emergency or a child needs medical attention. Citing the deficits in the budget, Rajoy said that too many foreigners were coming to Spain for ‘medical tourism’.

Earlier this year, at the start of what is expected to be a grueling election campaign, Rajoy reversed part of his policy and began allowing undocumented workers to receive assistance for primary health care.

But nevertheless, they are still barred from obtaining a coveted health card that would entitle them to a wide-range of specialised services.

Since the May 24 regional elections, when the PP lost to leftist opposition coalitions in many municipalities and several regions, local parliaments have begun passing laws circumventing the national legislation.

Rubén Moreno, general secretary at the Health Ministry, warned that regions could face fat sanctions not only by the central government but also the European Union if they continued to do so. But he failed to explain exactly what type of fines were in store for these local governments.

And now the PP has to deal with a rebel within its own ranks. Cristina Cifuentes, the new regional premier in Madrid, has also said she will issue a separate document to people without residency papers so that they can receive primary and specialised healthcare. A hostile challenge for Rajoy.



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