Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon threatened state repossession of insurance (EPS) companies that are found to have appropriated public resources, in a Wednesday conference in Bogota, according to an official press release.
During the discussion forum titled “Challenges of the state and civil society in the fight against corruption,” Vice President Angelino Garzon said that the current intervention system in the health sector is in crisis.
“Intervention has only caused health services to become more expensive and to favor fraud, deception and this whole situation that is being uncovered now. The private EPS [insurance companies] grew enormously, until they got to the point of having golf clubs, and public health weakened, including the hospital network,” said the vice president.
Garzon added that if it is proved that EPS companies exist that appropriated state resources and endangered citizens’ legal right to health services through fraudulent practices, the state would need to analyze the possibility of intervening and repossessing them, because “it is not fair that while they have gotten millions of dollars, in many parts of the country the public hospital network lives in a situation of crisis.”
The vice president went on to compare corrupt officials to common criminals, asking, “What difference is there between a (…) common criminal (…) with the actions of some men who using fraudulent processes have embezzled billions of dollars from the state in the health sector.” He added that public servants and companies that make contracts with the state have a duty to comply with the law and to respect public goods.
Finally, Garzon invited the members of all political parties with seats in Congress to create a pact of transparency and to fight against corruption, and requested the a joint effort between the state, civil society and the international community to protect public goods.
The major health sector scandal, in which 34 health insurance managers are currently being invested, 5 sector employees have already been arrested and charged and 20 arrest warrants are pending, is estimated to have cost the state as much as $2.5 billion.