Spain Rescue Seen Worse Than Cure as Hospitals Make Cuts
06 July 2012 @ 09:20
For some cancer patients, Spain’s debt crisis means living on borrowed medicine.
Virgen de la Luz hospital in the rural province of Cuenca turned away two women with lung and breast cancer in May after Roche Holding AG (ROG) stopped supplying tumor fighter Herceptin, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News. The women got the drug after a 24-hour wait thanks to a hastily-brokered deal to borrow it from another clinic.
To rescue Cuenca and the rest of Spain’s health system, which sank into debt alongside the regional governments that operate it, the state arranged an infusion of guaranteed loans and demanded 7 billion euros ($8.8 billion) in cost cuts. Yet doctors and patients warn the prescription for cutbacks may cause more pain than the budgetary malaise it was meant to cure.
“The situation is not going to change,” said Jose Andres Guijarro, a gynecologist at Virgen de la Luz who helped found a citizens group protesting cuts at the hospital. “If we didn’t have money to pay before, we won’t have it now.”
Patients and hospitals across Spain are wrestling with the same dilemma. Even as old debts get paid off -- the country’s 17 regions ran up some 12 billion euros in unpaid health bills through last year -- new ones are piling up. As a result, the need to break the cycle with spending cuts threatens to redefine the very notion of Europe’s tradition of socialized medicine: how best to treat patients, not how to make ends meet.
Read the full article at Bloomberg Business Week
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