THE DEBTS of big state-run hospitals increased by €100 million last year. The Health Ministry attributes this rise to new rules from Brussels, which allegedly cause the debt to accumulate faster than in the past. Analysts however say that the Brussels regulation is only an excuse, the Sme daily reported in its May 2 issue.

The debt may cause problems with this year’s budget, as it does not take the debt into account.

Health-care sector debt rose to €318.9 million at the end of last year, which is €105.6 million more than the previous year. The main debtors are state-run hospitals whose debts rose to €246.8 million in 2013, up from €141.7 million in 2012, the TASR newswire reported.

The ministry explains that the increase is the result of a new directive from Brussels that requires hospitals to pay invoices within 60 days.

Dušan Zachar, analyst with Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (INEKO) think tank, however says that the ministry has not specified to what extent the new rules reflected in the rise in debt. He noted that the debts of the state-run social insurer Sociálna Poisťovňa are also rising. The reason, he explains, is that the state does not solve problems with systematic measures. It, for example, did not allow transforming the hospitals into joint-stock companies, and thus having stricter budgetary rules, he told Sme.

“State-run hospitals do not see the threat of execution or bankruptcy,” Zachar said. “And they expect the state to remove their debts, which does not contribute to their motivation for better management.”

The ministry, however, says it deals with the management of hospitals, but that the effects of the austerity plans may be seen later, as reported by Sme.

The state has not said yet whether it will eliminate the hospitals’ debts. Michal Horváth from the Council for Budget Responsibility told Sme that the debt poses a risk to the budget, as this year’s budget does not factor the increased debt.

Source: Sme, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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