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MADRID HEALTH CRISIS

Privatizing healthcare law passed in Madrid assembly

Popular Party majority opens way for companies to bid for public services

The Madrid assembly on Thursday approved the Fiscal and Administrative Measures Law, which paves the way for the privatization of healthcare in the region. As of January 1, tenders can be submitted for healthcare services at six hospitals and 27 clinics. Also included in the legislation is a new and controversial supplementary charge of one euro per prescription.

The law was passed through the Popular Party’s absolute majority in the assembly with 72 votes. The opposition Socialists, United Left and UPyD all voted against the measures, which they said included a “made-to-measure suit” for the region’s EuroVegas aspirations; the law meets all the requirements of US casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson to construct his vision in Madrid.

Socialist deputy Antonio Carmona called for the resignation of health chief Javier Fernández-Lasquetty. “Privatizing healthcare isn’t efficiency; its business. [...] This isn’t a law, it is a scandal.”

Regional premier Ignacio González has faced a raft of protests and continued strikes over the privatization plan, but on Thursday accused public employees of “abusing” the right to strike. González said stoppages had cost the region 1.74 billion euros in 2012.

“If they wanted to, doctors could operate today on the patients that have their procedures postponed. Why do surgeons not operate?” he asked. “Because they don’t want to. So many strikes are cause for reflection on the part of citizens.”

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