Four More Healthcare Concessions before the Elections Prime Minister Edi Rama and former Minister of Health Ilir Beqaj.

During his four years in office, Edi Rama failed to keep his promise for free healthcare. Instead, he has given the Albanians the most expensive healthcare possible. In the last four years he has handed out concessions for the free healthcare checkup, the hemodialysis service, and the sterilization of surgical equipment, at a total value of €300 million.

Albanian won’t have to pay for these service in cash, but these €300 million dollars will come from their pockets, in the form of the taxes that they will pay to the government.

These €300 million will be given to private companies who provide services which where previously operated by the state hospitals and healthcare centers. But even after they have been privatized following a public–private partnership model, a large part of the work, such as the free healthcare checkups, will be performed by doctors in the state healthcare centers.

The General Prosecution has started criminal investigations into all three tenders, for corruption and the violation of the principle of equality in the public procurement procedure. These investigations are still underway.

There are four more tenders that the Rama government has planned for the last months that remain of its mandate.

The concession for laboratory services, online tracking of pharmaceuticals, online tracking of recipe, and an electronic health record register, all of which are supposed to start this year.

  1. The concession for laboratories, announced in 2016, when it was accompanied by protests from medical personnel. The concession has a value of 13 billion lekë (~€96 million).
  2. The concession for the only tracking of pharmaceuticals aims to create an online register of all the activities of pharmaceutical distributors in Albania. The contracting authority will be the Obligatory Healthcare Insurance Fund (FSDKSh).
  3. The concession for the Electronic Health Record which will be put in operation this year. This register will be a portal on which a patient’s history from the files of the FSDKSh is made available do medical personnel. Each patient’s records will be part of the register.
  4. The concession for e-Prescriptions, again with the FSDKSh as contracting authority. All pharmaceutical prescriptions will run through this online system, which will reduce the circulation of illegal pharmaceuticals. Several pilot projects have already been started, after which the system will be implemented across Albania.

The increase in concessions will necessarily lead to higher taxation rates. Because all the money that the state will put into the bank accounts of private companies will come from the taxes put on the people.

When Prime Minister Rama confronted with the fact that his concessions didn’t amount to free health care but rather its privatization, he responded that “healthcare is not your local bakery.”

Rama’s practice of handing out tenders just before the end of a mandate is close to what Berisha did toward the end of his, when he gave out several tenders before leaving office, including 4 hydropower plants.

This article was originally published by Lapsi.