Ombudsman critical of healthcare reform

  • 2018-03-22
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Access to healthcare in Latvia will not improve until financing for healthcare actually increases to the projected level, believes Ombudsman Juris Jansons.

Presenting his 2017 annual report in Saeima today, Jansons reminded that healthcare reform commenced in 2017 to achieve that healthcare spending increase to 4 percent of gross domestic product over the next three years. As long as healthcare financing is below that level, there will be no grounds to believe that access to healthcare has improved significantly in Latvia, stressed Jansons.

Commenting on the Healthcare Financing Law that Saeima passed at the end of 2017, Jansons said that the legislation the parliament had received from the government was of very poor quality, and the Health Ministry would still have to explain a lot of things. It is still unclear what advantages the health reform offers to society in general, and it remains to be seen how access to healthcare services will improve and whether the new healthcare financing system will ensure respectable salaries for healthcare personnel.

Overall, Jansons is critical of the initiative to increase healthcare financing to just 4 percent of GDP in 2020. In the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, the average healthcare financing ranges from 5.1 percent to 16.4 percent of GDP, it is therefore unclear how Latvian politicians hope to achieve substantial improvements in healthcare if financing for healthcare remains critically low, he said.

Jansons went on to say that it was social irresponsibility on the government's part to in fact exclude part of Latvia's residents from the healthcare system. Therefore another question that still remains unanswered is whether these residents will be able to make the required payments so they could access healthcare services.

"In my opinion, the principle of equality stipulated in the Constitution has therefore been violated in these residents' case," said Jansons, adding that this could result in a number of lawsuits filed with the Constitutional Court.