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Friday, June 09, 2006 

Friday, June 9, 2006

Government evaluates Health Reform options

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá said that the government does not wish "take the health card away from anyone", which is why he is asking the Legislative Assembly again to approve the additional $300 million that the Health Insurance Administration (ASES by its Spanish acronym) needs.

He said that the Health Department is evaluating three possible scenarios that contemplate reducing coverage, reducing those eligible for the governmental health plan, or initiating a program of deductibles and co-payments.

"The last thing we would do would be to take away people’s cards. First, we would study the mechanisms of co-payments and deductibles, which is what is being most recommended, and it can be done by not charging anything to the poorest and charging the others a little," the governor said in a press conference.

He explained that ASES will close the current fiscal year with a deficit of $140 million and that the same budget was recommended for the next fiscal year, meaning there would be a deficit of some $300 million if the Legislature does not approve the original $9.684 billion budget requested by the governor.

He said that if the Legislature does not approve this money, the possibility of transferring an initial sum of $180 million to ASES to alleviate the agency’s difficult fiscal situation is being evaluated.

The estimated deficit is also based on the expectation that another 40,000 people will join the public health plan during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

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