The Minister of Health Carolina Corcio assured that in terms of the resources of the sector, under strict technical criteria, this government determines the budgets that, on the one hand, allow to mitigate the deficit in which the portfolio is and at the same time that its rational use allows to guarantee the fundamental right to health of all Colombians.
During a press conference in which she expressed the need to clarify the figures, which she said were subject to distortions, she clarified that the Ministry of Health has a deficit of 5.5 billion pesos left by the previous administration, a situation that requires a series of from adjustments in the country’s fiscal scenario, which is not entirely favorable.
“It was reported to Congress and the Treasury Department. We are negotiating a deficit budget that is already projected at 5.7 billion pesos, and that was left over from the previous administration and is known to Congress, the Seventh Commission,” explained the minister.
In the same vein, he insisted that these shortfalls were due, among other reasons, to debts to cover expenses arising from the pandemic, which naturally reduced the resources of the proposed budget and could be used effectively. In addition, Korcho assured that this deficit should be accounted for in the budget and “An initial estimate was made, which is not the final one, of 8.1 billion pesos, of which 6.6 billion came from the previous government and 1.5 from us.” He emphasized that the request is for almost 5 billion pesos (8.1 billion plus 5.5 billion from the deficit and an additional 800,000 million) in order to comply with the health plan proposed by the government of President Gustavo Petro.
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The portfolio manager mentioned that the projected health budget is the highest in history and that it is not true that it has been reduced. In this regard, Korcho proposed two scenarios: “The first in which the UPC (the money that the system recognizes for the health of every Colombian) will be increased by almost 15 percent (14.97 percent), which will reach a figure of 86 billion pesos and exceed 8 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). Also, given the conditions in the country, a slightly more moderate scenario was considered, but one that implies significant increases of 12 percent and would result in the total budget being limited to 82 billion pesos.
Regarding these figures, the minister was very furious, saying that considering that the last proposed budget for the sector (2022), which was 74 billion pesos, it is not true that the budget is being tightened, even more so little that of the EPS because what is sought is to increase the income of these entities since they are the ones who receive and manage the said UPCs.
When asked about her observations in the House that health budgets should be cut, the Minister confirmed that this was taken out of context because what she put before the Seventh Committee of the House was the need to be more sensible in the requests to the Ministry of Finance, if it is taken into account that there are accumulated debts that exceed 15 billion pesos and that since they correspond to more than half of the tax reform, the requests that are still being discussed had to be adjusted because it would was “It’s impossible The Ministry of Finance had to allocate most of its resources to one sector, so reasonable adjustments are needed, which in no way means taking resources away from the health of Colombians.
Regarding what the minister said, Paula Acosta, executive president of the Colombian Association of Complex Medicine Companies (Acemi), said that beyond the reactions in the media, Acemi is looking for a technical space, a table, to be able to present the arguments given the complexity of the subject. “We have submitted to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health and the Department of National Planning (DNP), which are the competent authorities to determine the budget of the health sector, the technical arguments that support the concern we have from the union. and that we maintain our opinion on the eventual suspension of insurance, the largest position and which covers more than 800 million in benefits per year for all Colombians.
For his part, Elisa Torrenegra, executive director of Gestarsalud, the union that represents 11 EPS of the subsidized regime, sees positively that the government team is looking for ways to allocate more resources to vulnerable populations and to look for additional sources of promotion and prevention. He further mentioned that the sector needs to be careful so that the resources that are approved have order and methodological definitions to give the best health outcomes.
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Carlos Daguerre, director of the Insurance Chamber of Andi, considers it appropriate for the Ministry of Health to reassess the convenience of not increasing the UPC by 14 percent to remain at 12 percent, because although inflation is adjusted, factors that must be taken into account have increased the cost of care.
Juan Carlos Giraldo, director of the Colombian Association of Hospitals and Clinics, states that when budgets are set, it is important to take into account the macro variables that affect the sector, such as the exchange rate, inflation, minimum wage increases and attention to services, he also considers it necessary to reach an economic balance pact that makes it mandatory to pass on the increase to the UPC to suppliers and workers’ wages. Without neglecting that it is important to advance the application of the straight turns model.
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