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Greece’s Doctors Threaten Action Over Unpaid Health Bills

Greece’s National Organization for Health Care Provision, known as EOPYY, will be unable to cope with any further cuts to health spending as demanded by the country’s international lenders, the union representing EOPYY doctors said.

The so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank wants cuts totaling 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in health spending, of which 800 million euros concerns EOPYY, at a time when Greece’s largest state-run health care provider has debts of 1.5 billion euros, the Athens-based union said in an e-mailed statement today.

The union called on the Health Ministry to pay by Aug. 20 all money owed to EOPYY doctors for the first half of 2012 and to provide a written timetable for the repayment of previous debts to the entire medical profession.

Failure to fulfil this requirement will result in doctors suspending the terms of their work contracts until at least Sept. 2 when they will examine any developments, the union said.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the leaders of the two other parties supporting his coalition, Evangelos Venizelos of Pasok and Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left, are currently working out 11.5 billion euros of budget cuts for 2013 and 2014 to keep the international rescue funds flowing.

That package must be completed by early September, before a meeting of finance ministers from the 17-nation euro area, a Greek Finance Ministry official said on Aug. 5.

EOPYY hasn’t paid its doctors for performing medical procedures since the beginning of 2012 nor for medical visits since March, which corresponds to 230 million euros, while the organization owes the entire medical profession 570 million euros for 2011 and 2010, according to the statement. These debts may no longer be manageable, the union said.

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