Millions of Greeks are being forced to pay full price for essential medicines because the state health system has run out of cash to pay pharmacies for supplying prescriptions, health officials said on Wednesday.More Blood From Turnips
Pharmacy owners staged a 24-hour nationwide strike to press the government to start paying arrears of €250m for prescriptions issued in March and April after last-minute talks on Tuesday between Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the prime minister, and union officials broke down.
The dispute highlights Greece’s mounting cash flow problems amid recent political turmoil. While the finance ministry achieved spending targets agreed with international lenders, social insurance funds used up half their annual budget allocations in the first four months, according to official figures.
“There is a cash crunch. … The state has stopped funding [the National Organisation for Health Care Provision] EOPPY, and they have stopped paying us,” said an official from the PanHellenic Pharmaceutical Association. ‘We cannot continue to subsidise the health service out of our pockets.”
The move to make patients pay the full cost of prescription medicines started last month when state payments were suspended as Greece headed for elections. Pharmacies are owed a total of €520m by EOPPY and other social insurance funds for prescriptions supplied in the past year, the same official said.
Patients who previously paid prescription charges of between 10 and 25 per cent are now having to pay the full price for medicines, including those used to treat cancer and heart conditions, and seek refunds from social insurance funds that are members of EOPPY.
Greece is going to miss its next budget targets and in response will have to hike taxes or cut more spending. More tax hikes will mean more business failures and still lower revenues.
Just what does it take for the idiots in Brussels to see that Greece is insolvent and the current plan to extract more blood from turnips cannot possibly ever work?
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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