The Times Monday, 26th October 2009
Michael Briguglio, Alternattiva Demokratika, Sliema
One hopes that the government will reject the proposals made by the Chamber of Commerce to reform the "pharmacy of your choice" scheme. The Chamber is proposing that patients pay for free medicines and are subsequently refunded by the government.
If approved, this would mean that the government would start putting the burden on patients by expecting them to pay for the medicines which the government would only refund at a later stage. We cannot afford to come to a situation where instead of owing large sums of money to medicine importers, the government ends up owing money to the patient. This would be a further blow in the demolition of Malta's welfare state.
If the government has a cash flow problem in paying importers, it should explore the possibility of buying more medicines directly from foreign sources.
It should also analyse whether hefty medicine prices originate from overseas or from monopolistic practices in Malta. In this regard, it is positive that over the past year the government bought some medicines directly from foreign warehouses.
While the government should clamp down on abuse and waste of public funds the government should not do away with its social responsibilities. Before reforming current health schemes, it should conduct assessments of the impact on vulnerable social groups.