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REGIONAL FINANCING

Madrid follows Catalonia with drug prescription surcharge

Regional premier González says households have 200 million euros’ worth of medicines at home

Madrid on Wednesday took a leaf out of Catalonia’s book by imposing a surcharge of one euro on prescriptions for medicines issued by the regional health system as part of an austerity budget for next year in which spending on healthcare has been reduced by seven percent as part of savings totaling 2.7 billion euros.

“We will apply a charge of one euro for issuing prescriptions,” regional premier Ignacio González said at a presentation of the budget in which spending at been capped at 17.048 billion euros. “This is a measure of a dissuasive nature to encourage the efficient use of medicines.”

González said households had some 200 million euros’ worth of drugs in their medicine cabinets at home.

Universities and hospitals

The budget also calls for the privatization of the management of six of the new hospitals in the region.

“These are difficult times,” González said. “We are in a scenario of falling revenues and the need to comply with the established deficit figure.” The central government has imposed a shortfall cap on Spanish regions’ finances for next year of 0.7 percent of GDP, down from 1.5 percent this year.

The region’s six universities will see their funding cut by 16 percent to 840 million euros. Cuts in grants for school meals and books worth 28 million will remain in place, while spending on transportation is being reduced by 21 percent.

The savings of over 2.7 billion euros are made up by additional revenues of 1.335 billion euros and spending cuts of 1.424 billion.

Madrid is in a minority of regions which has not requested to tap the central government’s new Regional Liquidity Fund to deal with impending payments.