April 10, 2007 / 5:06 PM / 12 years ago

Royal says will save French social security system

France's Socialist Party presidential candidate Segolene Royal smiles at the end of her political rally as she campaigns in Lezignan, southwestern France, April 7, 2007. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

PARIS (Reuters) - Socialist candidate Segolene Royal vowed on Tuesday to save France’s social security system if elected president and attacked her conservative rival’s proposals to introduce non-reimbursable charges for some health care treatments.

In an effort to save costs in France’s expensive health insurance system, the ruling right’s Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed making patients pay some part of the cost of drugs, tests, doctors’ visits and hospital stays.

“It’s dangerous and it’s abrupt,” Royal said of Sarkozy’s plans after meeting doctors who criticised his proposal.

“I don’t think you can reform France abruptly and certainly not by pushing back equality in access to health care,” Royal told reporters

She said Sarkozy’s proposals would drive millions of French towards “medical precariousness”, adding she would guarantee French people equal access to health care.

“I will be the president who will guarantee this social model, this republican model, who will save the social security (system) and who will even consolidate it by taking care of ageing and handicap questions on the social security level.”

France’s health minister said last month France had cut its social security deficit to 8.7 billion euros (5.9 billion pounds), with the health insurance deficit coming in at 5.9 billion euros, lower than initially forecast.

The centre-right government has made cutting France’s public deficit a key issue in the run-up to the April/May election.

Recent surveys show Sarkozy has extended his lead over Royal and centrist candidate Francois Bayrou. An Ifop survey published on Tuesday said 67 percent of people thought Sarkozy would win the election, against 16 percent who saw a victory for Royal.

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