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IN SHORT

Opposition says cabinet harming health care

FORMER Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš regards the government's intention to turn the two state-run health insurers from joint stock companies back into public institutions and to enable them to draw financial aid from the state to be a very bad idea.

"It will lead to the mismanagement of finances and to a growth in the debt of the health sector," Mikloš told a news conference.

Mikloš, who is vice-chairman of the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), said that such a step went against to the government's programme statement. "The government pledged to secure an equal position for health insurance companies in order to prevent the misuse of their finances," he said.

The cabinet also intends to require all policyholders whose premiums are paid by the state, such as children, retired people and women on maternity leave, to take out insurance with the two state health insurers. This will also hurt the health insurance market by artificially propping up inefficient institutions, Mikloš said.

Mikloš added that the previous government had spent billions of crowns over the past few years to settle health sector debts. If the new government adopts the changes it has announced, he said, they will only increase debt in the sector and eventually hurt the health care system.

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