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Mečiar: Approving budgets of private insurers is unconstitutional

HZDS chairman Vladimír Mečiar spoke out on November 24 against a government-backed proposal to have not only the draft budgets of state-run health-insurance companies subject to the Health Ministry's approval but also those of the privately-held insurers. Making his remarks following a meeting of the three coalition parties - Smer, HZDS and SNS - Mečiar claimed that such a proposal flies in the face of the Constitution. The government should have sufficient controlling powers over the way finances are handled, "but it should not necessarily approve a private insurer's budget for the following year, as this might lead to a situation in which the government rejects the budget and the insurer will have to operate according to an interim plan lifted from the previous year with lower expenditures. That would worsen the status of its clients," Mečiar said, adding that he wants this problem removed in time for the vote on the bill. PM and Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico countered by saying that it was the health minister who is supposed to make such objections rather than his coalition partner.

HZDS chairman Vladimír Mečiar spoke out on November 24 against a government-backed proposal to have not only the draft budgets of state-run health-insurance companies subject to the Health Ministry's approval but also those of the privately-held insurers. Making his remarks following a meeting of the three coalition parties - Smer, HZDS and SNS - Mečiar claimed that such a proposal flies in the face of the Constitution.

The government should have sufficient controlling powers over the way finances are handled, "but it should not necessarily approve a private insurer's budget for the following year, as this might lead to a situation in which the government rejects the budget and the insurer will have to operate according to an interim plan lifted from the previous year with lower expenditures. That would worsen the status of its clients," Mečiar said, adding that he wants this problem removed in time for the vote on the bill.

PM and Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico countered by saying that it was the health minister who is supposed to make such objections rather than his coalition partner.

"Our main contention is that if the state-run health insurers ... have their budgets approved by ministries, so can private ones," he said.

The Health Ministry, which tabled the proposal, says that the adoption of this measure will not break any international convention concerning the treatment of investors. The ministry further states in explanatory materials that compulsory premiums for public-health insurance are deemed to be public finances rather than the private property of a health insurer, while dealing in such insurance is not a private business activity. So the measure doesn't fall foul of any law and is a standard tool of a government that aspires to have controlling powers over this process, especially with regard to its responsibility for the allocation of public finances, the ministry responded. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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