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At the sitting of the Riigikogu, the Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to three interpellations of members of the Centre Party Faction concerning the availability of medical care (No. 117) and the funding of health care (No. 115).

The interpellation concerning the availability of medical care (No. 117), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Marika Tuus-Laul, Viktor Vassiljev, Heimar Lenk, Märt Sults, Kersti Sarapuu, Valeri Korb, Martin Repinski, Oudekki Loone, Andrei Novikov, Dmitri Dmitrijev, Tarmo Tamm, Erki Savisaar, Jaanus Karilaid, Anneli Ott, Aadu Must, Siret Kotka, Peeter Ernits, Mihhail Korb, Toomas Vitsut, Mailis Reps and Kadri Simson on 15 December 2015, brought out several signals of possible decrease of the availability of medical care. The Ministry of Social Affairs has requested that hospitals make redundancies, the volume of specialised medical care services has been cut in the budget of the Health Insurance Fund, and the volume of the contracts with general hospitals has been reduced.

The interpellators wished to know how the reduction of the budget of the Health Insurance Fund affected the availability of specialised medical care, and whether the impact of the reduction of the volume of the budgets of general hospitals on the regional, financial and temporal availability of medical care had been analysed.

Ossinovski said that the budget of the Health Insurance Fund would not be cut this year. On the contrary, it will increase. “In fact, the volume of the budget will grow also as regards specialised medical care. The majority of this growth will go to cover the salary rise of health care professionals according to the collective agreement. The number of treatment cases of specialised medical care will also not decrease,” Ossinovski said. “In 2016, the health insurance budget will grow by a total of 6.4% as compared to 2015, while the health services budget will grow by 5.9% and the specialised medical care budget contained in it will grow by 5%.” The Minister added that, at the same time, the state budget expenditure is planned to grow by only 4.2%. The four-year budget forecast of the Health Insurance Fund does not provide for budget cuts. The budget is planned to grow by an average of circa 6% per year in the next years, the Minister explained.

Ossinovski noted that the Health Insurance Fund had not communicated adequately with hospitals in the issue of concluding contracts, and that had given rise to emotions.

Ossinovski explained that the revenues of the Health Insurance Fund are made up of the health insurance part of the social tax that is transferred directly to the account of the Health Insurance Fund after it has been received, without going through any additional levels of decision-making. “The funding of health care will not decrease in connection with the lowering of social tax,” the Minister noted.

When speaking of issues relating to the regional organisation of health care, Ossinovski said that the aim is not to bring local hospitals to extinction. “We wish to concentrate certain specialised medical care in regional hospitals, or competence centres. In Estonia, it is not reasonable to develop the full service of the provision of medical care in all general hospitals. It is not reasonable neither in terms of the distribution of the staff nor the funds,” Ossinovski explained.

Ossinovski said that the Government was planning to direct additional funds towards improving the availability of medical care and increasing the funding of health care. A working group consisting of representatives from several ministries and agencies has been convened in order to find a solution to the problem. Soon the Government will discuss the proposals of the working group in order to make a decision.

Ossinovski also replied to the interpellation concerning the differentiation of the salaries of medical workers on a regional basis, and the promotion of public health in Ida-Virumaa (No. 109).

The Minister of Finance Sven Sester replied to the interpellation concerning the situation of Eesti Energia (No. 107), the interpellation concerning the plan of Eesti Energia to write off the investments in Auvere and Utah (No. 113), the interpellation concerning a bond purchase programme (No. 119) and the interpellation concerning VAT frauds (No. 120).

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the Riigikogu excluded from the agenda for the working week the proceedings on the Registered Partnership Act Implementation Bill (114 SE), initiated by 38 members of the Riigikogu.

The sitting ended at 7.07 p.m.

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

Riigikogu Press Service

Gunnar Paal, 6316351, 51902837