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Five rebel regions pledge to go on treating migrants without residency papers

Andalusia among those defying plans to end universal healthcare

At least five regions say they plan to rebel against government cost-cutting measures to remove 150,000 undocumented immigrants from the public health system on September 1 and deny them the same access to treatment they have enjoyed to date.

Andalusia, Asturias and the Basque Country, run by the Socialists; the Canary Islands, controlled by the Canarian Coalition and the Socialists; and CiU Catalan nationalist bloc-run Catalonia have all warned of the dangers the central government's measure could involve and have pledged to go on guaranteeing healthcare to those people affected.

The rebelling regions, which account for around half of illegal immigrants in Spain, are now studying how they can continue to offer universal healthcare within their territories. Catalonia says all outpatient treatment will be guaranteed, but has yet to resolve how to go on attending to hospitalized patients, according to a regional health department spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Andalusia says it will not rule out appealing to the Constitutional Court if the government legally forces it to start charging undocumented immigrants an annual 700-euro fee for medical cover, as the Health Ministry has proposed.