Colombia’s government transferred $103.7 million from the national budget to hospitals, attempting to help alleviate the debt crisis facing the country’s public medical facilities.
Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas explained that the resources will help fund hospitals, assuring continued medical attention for users who use services at hospitals close to financial collapse.
“The resources attempt to rescue finances of the health sector entities and guarantee the fundamental rights of all Colombians,” said Cardenas.
According to local media Caracol Radio, 21 hospitals have submitted solicitations for debt purchases from the government.
Colombia’s health debt crisis stems primarily from a problematic publicly funded health intermediaries known as EPSs, which are in charge of designating health plans and reimbursing hospitals for services. The problem, however, is that the EPS are poorly managed and highly corrupt, causing payments to come in short, late or sometimes not at all.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the hospitals and service providers are owed a total of $7.4 billion dollars, creating budget crises threatening to shut at least 5 hospitals in the near future.
At Bogota‘s La Samaritana hospital alone, the EPS allegedly owes a total $67 million, which will precipitate insolvency within less than a year. La Samaritana serves 88,000 patients each month.
President Juan Manuel Santos has proposed a health care reform to eliminate the EPSs, but workers from the medical industry have come out in protest, saying that the fix does not change the fundamental problems leading to health crisis.