After victory: government takes billions from hospitals in Hungary
Though billions of forints were given to the hospitals during the electoral campaign after the third consecutive 2/3rd majority gained by the government parties Fidesz is starting to distract the money flow. According to nepszava.hu, the amount of money taken back from hospitals can reach 20 bn HUF (EUR 64.4M). However, according to the Hungarian Medical Chamber, the health care system needs at least 6-700 bn HUF (EUR 2.25bn) to be able to function satisfactorily.
Problem after problem
As we already reported, the Hungarian health care system struggles with many problems. According to Republikon, half of the Hungarians think that health care is one of the two most significant problems the country. According to the international research of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute done in 27 countries,
72% of the Hungarians mentioned health care system among the three most significant problems of the country.
For example, waiting lists are long, the debts of the hospitals are gigantic, and according to an official report leaked in 2016 two-thirds of the hospitals should be closed because of outdated medical technology, financial shortage and the lack of qualified doctors. In fact, they left the country and are working in Western-European countries because in Hungary they receive ridiculously low salaries.
According to nepszava.hu,
during the campaign Fidesz put billions of forints into the sector.
For example, hospitals got 54.6 bn HUF (EUR 175.8M) to settle their debts. Furthermore, dentists were given 7.6 bn HUF (25.4M) as one-time allowance. Moreover, in April the government raised their salary by 130 thousand forints (EUR 418). Finally, they spent 20 bn HUF (EUR 64.4M) on an 8% pay rise of the health care employees which in fact was due only in November. However, the government brought it forward because of the pressure of the trade associations.
Directors of the hospitals in panic
Only one day after the parliamentary elections all director-generals were announced that they have to transfer all of their ‘free of charge’ money to the Hungarian State Treasury. The source of this sum is the reduction of the social contribution tax to 5%. Thus, hospitals had to pay less tax after their employees, so the margin remained by them. According to the calculations of nepszava.hu, the altogether amount of this money can reach 20 bn HUF (EUR 64.4M) in this case. Most of the directors hoped that the government would enable them to spend this money on their hospitals. Of course, without a direct order most of them did not spend them; however, many did.
As a result, the announcement mentioned above
caused considerable panic among directors.
Some think that they only have to transfer this money if they are debtless. Others claim that they have to pay the money to the Treasury either way.
According to the Treasury,
the debt of the hospitals reached 23 bn HUF (EUR 74M) at the end of February
in spite of their consolidation done at the end of 2017. In fact, the money given to the hospitals is only enough for 10-11 months for decades.
Furthermore, napi.hu calculated that the sector might face difficulties because of the pay rise. This is because the rate of salaries in the budget of hospitals increased from 40 to 50pc in the last four years. However, the money spendable on material expenditures did not grow, so hospitals do not have, e.g. up to date equipment. This hinders the healing process. According to them, the sector reached crossroads in this regard. If they have to implement further cuts regarding material expenditures, it might result in a total breakdown.