Austria: The health reform means more deterioration and serves the pharmaceutical industry

We publish this unofficial translation of an article from the Austrian newspaper Rote Fahne.

This week the government presented the new health reform. With this they show that they do not even want to start to solve the much criticized problems such as the shortage of doctors, the shortage of medicine, as well as the psychological damage which their Corona-measures left behind on especially the youth.

The first point of the ”Five-Point-Plan” of this health reform is the shortage of doctors. For new doctors who treat state-insured patients a one-time-bonus of 100,000 euros will be given, with which already in this year 100 new positions for doctors who treat state-insured patients should be filled. First of all hundred new positions is of course way too little to match the retirements and the shortage (for example, in the district of Murtal in Styria there is only one gynecologist with a state-health insurance contract for 35,000 women). Furthermore, a 100,000 one-time-bonus will not change anything about the fact that at the moment it is much more profitable for doctors to open a private practice than to practice with a state health insurance contract. Therefore it cannot be guaranteed that these hundred positions even could be filled.

An even greater mockery of the patients is the strategy against the shortage of medication. Essential medications are missing from the shelves since around the beginning of the year (we reported). The government now wants to “top up the supply”. For some medications (like antibiotics for children) this should improve the shortage. But nothing is said about the fact that very many different medications and medical devices cannot be frequently ordered. As long as basic medications are not produced in Austria it cannot be talked about secure medical supply. Because it is cheaper to order this from the USA, Germany and China, the ruling class will not make any significant change to solve this problem.

The third point, which the health minister Rauch presented, is the psycho-social care, especially of the youth. This is based on that the Corona-measures have increased mental illnesses and even suicide attempts of the youth enormously. The consequences of the Corona-policies of the ruling class are being faced in the healthcare ever since. What the government wants to promote themselves with is actually the confession of the bankruptcy of their own health policy.

Point four and five of this health reform are about the preventive care and digitalization, which are labeled “restructuring” of healthcare. The medical association criticized that the so-called primary care centers are being presented as “solution for everything”. This is an understatement, because the primary care centers are in reality a scandalous example of how this restructuring completely destroys large parts of the local medical care for the population.

The primary care centers are health care centers in which also other personnel like occupational therapists and social workers will work alongside general practitioners. In the framework of the structural plans of the provinces many hospitals were reduced and closed in the last five years. The primary care centers are presented as a “solution” by the ruling class for the bottleneck in the outpatient care and for the shortage of doctors. “Resource-saving” and shorter treatments are being talked about. A triage system is also planned, in which qualified nurses would receive patients, who come to the primary care center, and then decide who gets to see a doctor and who gets a quick prescription without examination. The population is thus fed with more and more one-sided and surfacial treatment with medication, but healing treatments like operations are not available at all often since Corona. The millions of taxes which the government pumps into the health care system in the framework of this reform goes largely into the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. This means a major deterioration of the public care for the workers and the people. The modern capitalist State cuts from the treatment which produce little profit and promotes the “faster handing” of costs on everyone, who pays for the insurance system. At the same time, private pharmaceutical capitalists are supported with this money. This is what also this health reform, which must be rejected, is for.

The current healthcare system does not serve the patients and the population, but those who pull profit out of it. While the workers, the employees and the small independent business owners pay enormous taxes and the taxes received by the State have shot up with the inflation, there is more cuts to the public healthcare. Cuts are not however made to the military armament and the initiatives to become “fit for war”. That it is said that the health reform is an “improvement” is a complete lie, which simply should not be accepted!

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