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Health Care Ukrainian communists slam ‘doctor death's’ medical reforms

Health minister and US citizen Ulana Suprun's law introduces charges for medical treatment

UKRAINE’S communists accused President Petro Poroshenko of being “an accomplice to Doctor Death” today after he signed IMF-prompted healthcare changes into law.

Mr Poroshenko signed the Bill on State Financial Guarantees of Medical Services and Medicines on Thursday during a trip to Odessa.

The law, which was approved by the parliament in October, is the brainchild of Michigan-born US citizen Ulana Suprun, who moved to Ukraine in 2013 and was appointed acting health minister last year.

It replaces a system descended from that of the Soviet period, in which medical care and all medicines were free, although critics say that, in recent years, patients have often had to bribe doctors to actually get hold of prescribed drugs.

The new system is insurance-based and introduces charges for certain medicines and treatments. Proponents say it increases choice as patients will be allowed to choose their doctor, while doctors will be paid more for the more patients they have.

But it has faced fierce criticism, with even Ukraine’s parliamentary health committee chairwoman Olga Boholomets, a supporter of the 2014 Maidan coup, who was once personal physician to president Viktor Yuschenko, predicting hospital closures in rural areas and an exodus of doctors to the cities, with consequences she called “tantamount to genocide.”

“This so-called medical reform, implemented by a US citizen at the request of the international pharmaceutical mafia and the IMF, legally destroys free and accessible medical assistance — in fact, depriving the vast majority of our citizens who are on the verge of, or below the poverty line of the services of qualified specialists,” the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) said today.

“This will lead to a sharp reduction in state and municipal hospitals, especially in rural areas, and a massive outflow of qualified doctors abroad.”

KPU general secretary Petro Symonenko argues that the law violates Ukraine’s constitution.

“Legislative permission to introduce paid services in public medical institutions calls into question MPs’ knowledge of the constitution, which states medical care for Ukrainians is a right,” he pointed out as the Bill made its way through parliament.

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