Colombia’s Congress drops ball on healthcare reform

(Photo: Las 2 Orillas)

Colombia’s Congress has postponed measures of a long-anticipated reform of the country’s ailing healthcare sector, an opponent of a pending reform proposal said Thursday.

The bill to reform the healthcare system in Colombia was put on hold since no submission was filed to keep the project going in time before congressional sessions adjourn for summer holiday in two weeks.

The bill may be put back on the agenda in the House of Representatives where it must pass through two debates from July 20, when the new Congress is installed for the next four years.

House Representative Stella Gloria Diaz (MIRA) celebrated the postponement on her website.

“This initiative proposed by the government was the remedy worse than the disease, which threatened the rights of patients, healthcare professionals, and workers – the main victims of the system, and on the contrary, would legalize corruption and misappropriation of sector resources,” said Diaz.

Diaz lobbied against the healthcare reform bill in November because among other things, it “limited legal action and the rights of patients to comprehensive care.”

Another criticism by opponents of the reform bill is that it would give mayors and governors the ability to appoint upper-level hospital staff, including hospital directors.

MORE: Colombia health reform: The big issues

Last year, Senator Luis Carlos Avellaneda said that the measure “opens the door to cronyism and politicking, and of course corruption.”

MORE: Colombia’s Constitutional Court upholds health care reform bill

Colombia’s Congress passed the broad health reform bill last year at the urging of President Juan Manuel Santos. The bill’s detractors have repeatedly claimed the reform fails to address some of the most significant issues in the healthcare system, including the role played by intermediary service managers (EPS), which have been involved in large-scale embezzlement scandals and whose function would’ve been maintained under the statute.


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