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Health minister rejects idea of across-the-board cuts

Universal health care not to be taken for granted, says Lorenzin

08 April, 14:41
Health minister rejects idea of across-the-board cuts (ANSA) - Rome, April 8 - Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin on Tuesday reiterated her commitment to avoiding across-the-board cuts to Italy's national health service (SSN), instead putting the emphasis on 'programming' and 'efficiency'.

"The SSN budget is linked to gross domestic product so we also need to see how the economy goes," Lorenzin told journalists on the margins of the annual general health assembly in Rome.

"However the important thing is that the notion of generalised cuts doesn't pass as this runs counter to the idea of efficient programming," she added.

Her comments came ahead of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday at which the government is expected to approve its economic blueprint, the so-called Documento di Economia e Finanza (DEF), for the next three years.

Lorenzin called on regional authorities, which are responsible for administering public health services locally, to do their part in identifying areas where savings can be made.

This, she said, "will allow us to recover several billion euros for reinvestment in health".

Lorenzin also warned that the universal health care enshrined by the Italian constitution should not "be taken for granted". The government's economic blueprint is expected to forecast economic growth of 0.8% for 2014, higher than the European Commission's prediction of 0.6%, but lower than the 1% forecast by the previous Enrico Letta administration. On Monday Premier Matteo Renzi met with spending review chief Carlo Cottarelli and economist MP Yoram Gutgeld to discuss possible savings. The government hopes to raise some five billion euros from the review of public spending.