Health care funding plan targets 4% of GDP by 2020

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The government and social partners agreed today to work out a timetable by June 1 that would provide for raising health care funding to 4% of GDP by 2020.

The necessity to ensure the growth of health care funding was one of the contentious issues discussed at today's meeting of the National Tripartite Cooperation Council, which brings together representatives of the government, employers' organizations and trade unions.

The Latvian Free Trade Union Confederation said it could not support the Finance Ministry's tax reform guidelines unless the proposals include a sustainable financing plan for the health sector.

After nearly two hours of debate, the National Tripartite Cooperation Council agreed to endorse the tax reform guidelines. The parties also agreed to work out by June a timetable for raising health care funding so that by 2020 Latvia's health budget reaches 4% of GDP.

Valdis Keris, the leader of the Trade Union of Health and Social Care Employees, told journalists after the meeting that the National Tripartite Cooperation Council had agreed on a compromise solution, with the social partners endorsing the tax reform on the condition that funding for health care is ensured by June 1.

"If this condition is not met by June 1 we will consider ourselves deceived. The medics' union will then be unable to accept the tax reform," Keris said.

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers) said after the National Tripartite Cooperation Council's meeting that if a solution for health care funding is not found in a month the government will not be able to submit the tax reform guidelines to Saeima.

Asked if today's agreement reached by the National Tripartite Cooperation Council will make tax reform negotiations with Unity party easier, Kucinskis voiced hope that he will hear Unity's arguments at today's government meeting and that the issues that still have to be debated will be identified. "I am ready to get involved in tackling these issues," Kucinskis said.

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