Coro, June 16th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government announced it will investigate illegal practices within private health clinics after a number of “irregularities” came to light. In the most severe cases patients died as a result of being denied treatment due to errors with their health insurance code.
“How many people have died at the entrance of these clinics because their health insurance doesn’t cover them? Because their insurance codes don’t appear (on the database)? This is unacceptable in any country, much less in one that is in the process of revolution,” said President Chávez on Sunday from Cuba.
The President stipulated that he wanted ministers to work “flat out” on this issue and stressed the need for involvement of the state.
“It is an issue that can’t just be left in the hands of INDEPABIS (Institute for the Defence of People in their Access to Goods and Services), which comes under the Ministry of Business – this isn’t a business matter, it is an ethical one,” he stated.
INDEPABIS has reported that it received 5,017 complaints regarding the conduct of private clinics in the past few years including price speculation, using expired medicines, charging extra for emergency care and imposing provisos on patients being admitted to hospital.
Augusto Montiel, Director of INDEPABIS, confirmed that the practice of requesting health insurance codes prior to administering emergency medical treatment is illegal and clinics that continue to do so will be shut down.
By demanding this information, private clinics could be “committing crimes such as physical harm, murder and failing to give assistance”, said Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz.
“Health is considered to be a fundamental right and you can’t capitalise on it,” she added.
On Tuesday, Vice President Elias Jaua confirmed the formation of a “presidential team” of ministers, including the Ministers of Health, Education and Women and Equality. The team will present health policy recommendations to the President and will be headed by Minister of Foreign Relations Nicolas Maduro.
“We are going to carry out a rigorous revision of all the legislation that regulates practice within private clinics, and above all the rights that human beings have when they attend (a clinic) requesting health care,” said Jaua.
President Chávez urged the Venezuelan middle class to realise who was “ruining” and “cheating” them. “The revolution has extended its hand to you, protected you,” he said.
A popular march called “Health is not a Business: Yes to Life” is expected to take place today in Caracas in support of the government’s measures.
Managers and Medic to be Charged
INDEPABIS also announced today that it will charge four managers and one doctor at a clinic in Maracay for failing to attend to patient Hugo Bolívar – who died five hours after being refused medical treatment for an intestinal perforation at the clinic.
In other areas the organisation stated that it will impose sanctions and a fine of 340,000 bolivars ($80,000) against an insurance company that refused to pay out on policies held by cancer patients between 2007 and 2010.
The government said it would put itself at the service of the Attorney General’s Office in order to thoroughly investigate all accusations.