The introduction of socialism to the health care sector, which was announced in such high style by the ruling Smer party, has been slowed by opposition from the HZDS party, its partner in the ruling coalition. HZDS Deputy Chairman Milan Urbáni has told the health minister that he does not support his attack on private health insurance companies.
This small HZDS revolt is not an ambush of Smer, but rather it is a continuation of the policy of the HZDS from the time of the health care reform under former Health Minister Rudolf Zajac. HZDS boss Mečiar and Urbáni from 2004 openly supported Zajac, as well as the gradual privatization of the health care sector. They were not following policy priorities, as they pretended, but privatization interests. When health sector services were privatized, the HZDS was at the trough. Urbáni, who has a background in health care, regularly behaved as if he were Zajac's lieutenant. Both Zajac's people and private health care companies in Banská Bystrica region turned to Urbáni for help. Mečiar himself was interested in "health care transformation", and was even accused by a former party colleague, Miroslav Maxon, of engagement in the business strategies of hospitals in Trenčín region.
Smer's attempts to weaken private capital in the health care sector is not surprising, as it is part of the standard artillery of any left-wing party. Nor is the opposition of the HZDS and Urbáni any surprise, given their private interests in the sector. For this reason, the confrontation will not be a severe one. The HZDS doesn't need another war but instead a compromise under which the party would back down and in exchange be allowed to run large hospitals in Banská Bystrica and Trenčín, and develop their supplier contacts to HZDS-linked firms.
Following the exhausting personal and power conflicts of last year, for a moment it seemed as if the coalition was about to resolve its program conflicts as well. However, with the Fico government, program conflicts are only a continuation of power conflicts by other means.
Pravda, January 30
5. Feb 2007 at 0:00