The European Health Care Pass, or Sicilian Health Pass for the press, was introduced in 2008 to prevent the highest-risk hospitals from imposing drastic treatment limits on patients. But a prescription given under such a law leaves patients with virtually no other choices but to re-enroll in a private, privately financed system that costs five times as much.
After a year-long review, a panel of experts established a minimum threshold in April and called for a ban on the Sicilian Pass. “Conveniently for those introducing it in 2008, it also says they can be used up to the maximum patient load, which has a dramatic impact on the quality of the health services,” the ministry of health told the BBC earlier this month.
Now, worried about growing anger among the public at a prime minister whose coalition includes anti-immigrant and populist groups, Italy is going to offer residents the chance to vote on whether to scrap the Sicilian Pass before implementing the measure nationwide. According to a recent poll from Mediator, about three out of four Italians polled would have voted against the Sicilian Pass.
The Sicilian Pass has been particularly difficult to live with for Sicilians who have to pay for doctors based on an annual salary, where doctors cannot initiate mandatory appointments with patients without first receiving a fee. These arrangements are necessary for at least part of every day for patients who cannot afford private insurance, like those who lived in Italy before the passing of the Law of Healthcare, as well as their families.
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