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Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov Survives No-Confidence Vote

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s minority Cabinet survived its first no-confidence vote in Parliament demanded by opposition parties for mismanaging the health-care system.

Parliament rejected the motion today in a 144-70 vote, with one abstention, of the 215 lawmakers present in the 240-seat assembly. The vote was backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which ruled the country from 2005 to 2009.

The two parties accused the 14-month old Cabinet of failing to provide needed funding and causing chaos in the medical system. Borissov’s government has cut spending in effort to control a widening budget deficit amid the deepest recession in a decade.

Borissov appointed the Cabinet’s third health minister, Stefan Konstantinov, a day before the motion was introduced to ensure the backing of his allies, the nationalist Attack party, with 21 lawmakers, and the coalition of the Union of Democratic Forces and Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, which has 14 seats. The government controls 117 seats in the assembly falling short of the 121 needed to pass a vote.

Konstantinov replaces Anna-Maria Borissova, who came under fire from doctors and politicians after the government failed to make 125 million lev ($87 million) of payments to hospitals for the second quarter. The government initially said the payment would be delayed until March 2011 and then transferred half of the amount on Oct. 1, when two opposition parties introduced the no-confidence motion.

Hospitals were forced to cut doctors’ wages, prompting them to seek employment abroad, non-emergency surgeries are being postponed and hospital patients have to bring their own food and medicines, said Dimitar Lenkov, chief secretary of the Bulgarian Doctors Union.

Bulgaria set up a National Health Insurance Fund in 1999 to put its Soviet-style medical system on a market footing. The fund collects obligatory payments from all Bulgarians and covers hospital costs.

Bulgaria has delayed by a decade plans to set up private health-care funds and sell state-owned hospitals to complete the overhaul.

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