Bulgarian MPs Reject Amendments against Corruption in Healthcare

Politics | October 19, 2007, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Bulgarian MPs Reject Amendments against Corruption in Healthcare The voting was unaffected by the obvious absence of more than half of the MPs, most of whom had, however, left their voting cards behind to allow their colleagues to cast votes in their stead. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

Bulgarian MPs rejected on Friday an amendment aimed at legalising under-the-counter payments in hospitals, a proposal that would stamp out corruption in the healthcare sector, its authors claimed.

Under existing legislation, the only payment Bulgarians are required to make is an annual fee to their GP doctor, but it is a public secret that to get any service, patients have to pay both doctors and nurses.

The amendment, put forth by Atanas Shterev from ex-king Simeon Saxe-Coburg's NMSP party, proposed to make such payments official and subject to taxation, as well.

"Such payments are rife in Bulgarian hospitals anyways, we might as well legalise them," Shterev told fellow MPs, but failed to sway even NMSP's partners in the three-way ruling coalition.

The parliament also rejected another amendment to abolish GP fees altogether, but passed the amendment to scrap such fees for men aged over 63, and women above 60, despite objections from the healthcare commission.

The voting was unaffected by the obvious absence of more than half of the MPs, most of whom had, however, left their voting cards behind to allow their colleagues to cast votes in their stead.

Parliamentary regulations forbid voting with another MP's card, but the rules are rarely enforced, and with the campaign for next week's local elections in full swing, attendance has been even lower than usual this month.
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