SaS Unveils Team Tasked with Plan for Health Care Shake-up

SaS chairman Richard Sulik (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 24 (TASR) – The health care sector has for a long time been marred by political neglect, the pilfering and frittering away of funds, and a low level of services, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) leader and MEP Richard Sulik told a press conference on Tuesday.

At the same time, he introduced a team of experts tasked with formulating SaS’s comprehensive reform of the health care sector by the end of this year. The team – led by Sulik at the moment – also includes SaS MP and member of Parliament’s health care committee Jana Ciganikova, member of the Healthcare Supervisory Office (UDZS) supervisory board Iveta Pospisilova, former vice-governor of Slovakia’s central bank NBS Martin Barto, pharmacist Martin Pilnik, and former health minister Rudolf Zajac (2002-06).

“The health care sector is one of SaS’s eight priorities. With that in mind, we’ve decided to draw up a comprehensive reform of the sector that will be equivalent to our tax and levy reform. We’ll work on it all of this year, and tentatively we plan to present it towards the end of the year,” said Sulik.

In a portent of things to come, SaS suggests a 9-percent health levy on one’s total income of up to €2,000. The cap on the levy would therefore be €180. “This is a mechanism inspired by the ‘levy bonus’,” said Sulik in reference to a measure that is one of the hallmarks of the party’s programme.

Sulik went on to acknowledge current Health Minister Tomas Drucker for what he called is his genuine effort for things in the sector to take a turn for the better. “But I’m doubtful as to whether the Smer-SD party will let him introduce any major changes,” he contended.

Zajac weighed in by saying that the sector fails to operate well despite having more funds at hand than was previously the case. “There is around €4.5 billion in the sector now. Compared to other countries, health care [in Slovakia] is less accessible and is inferior. I take it as a challenge to pick up where we left off when introducing a reform in 2004 and to make the most of it. But we’re also planning some improvements,” said Zajac, who introduced a raft of measures as health minister that got a lot of flak from Prime Minister Robert Fico and his Smer-SD party. Touching on the issue of the salaries of nurses, Zajac called their remuneration undignified for and incommensurate with their job.

“If SaS wants to change things and bring more value to citizens for their money, I would be acting against my lifetime principle if I didn’t help,” said Zajac. He assured, however, that he entertains no plans for a return to the political fray and that he will not run for SaS in the next general election.