January 15, 2008 / 8:07 PM / 11 years ago

Hungary Socialists to propose changes to health bill

BUDAPEST, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Hungary’s ruling Socialist party will propose changes to the health insurance bill which President Laszlo Solyom has refused to sign, a party spokesman said on Tuesday.

The bill, which would allow private business into the health insurance system, is a key plank of the government’s reform programme aimed at cutting a budget deficit.

Solyom has said the bill was drafted too hastily, had no public and professional support and failed to guarantee that all citizens — poor and the rich — would get equal care.

"In our view the representatives of the insured should have a better insight in the operations of the new health care funds," Mihaly Kokeny, an MP who is the spokesman for the Socialists’ health policy, told Reuters.

"But we do not believe that we would need deep changes, I mean changes in the basic construction of the bill."

Kokey said Socialist MPs would submit their amendments by Jan. 23 and that the parliamentary group would discuss those proposals at a meeting on Feb. 4.

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, whose Socialists are the main party in a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats, has won praise from investors for cutting a budget deficit of 9.2 percent of gross domestic product to below 6 percent last year.

But reform measures, mainly affecting the health system and education, triggered trade union protests last year and the Socialists’ popularity has plunged to lows of around 13 percent from ratings of around 20 percent at the end of 2006. (Reporting by Sandor Peto; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)



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