We hope that the new government will put health care and the health of the population back at the center of the political agenda
Hospices are now at a crossroads: unable to lower heating temperatures during the winter months, they will either receive a subsidy from the state or they will, inevitably, have to raise rates. And not by a small amount. A cry of alarm that politicians seem unable to hear. Barbara Cittadini is the national president of Aiop, the Italian association of private hospitalization that brings together as many as 574 facilities.
Interview with Barbara Cittadini, President of the Italian Association of Private Hospitals (AIOP), with Il Tempo
Covid has been a very tough test for healthcare establishments. What was the greatest difficulty and what was the best memory of the pandemic?
The crisis we experienced highlighted structural and planning deficiencies and had effects on the entire Italian socio-economic system, but the system’s ability to react was immediate and extraordinary. It was precisely the hospitals that had to respond to the, even more stringent, need to limit contagion in order to protect an extremely fragile segment of the population, such as the elderly, who paid the highest price. We have taken all necessary measures, such as not allowing visits from relatives, aware that depriving an elderly or dependent person of their closest affections means depriving them of a contact that is as fundamental to their very existence as ever.
Is it correct to say that without immediate government intervention, there is a real risk that some of the hospitals will close and some will be forced to raise their rates?
Despite the exponential increase in energy costs, we continue to ensure the right to health care for citizens. The Aiop facilities will never let go of their decisive role in the protection of public health, but it is necessary to manage, immediately, this crisis that risks not only compromising the financial economic balance of the companies but, also, no longer being able to guarantee the performance and services to a population that manages, even now, with difficulty to fully enjoy its right to health because of the very long waiting lists. It is clear that, in this sense, it is necessary to intervene in the system, starting with the adjustment of fees, which must be defined on the basis of scientifically accurate procedures that take into due consideration the higher costs of production, the cost of personnel and new technologies.
Why, on the part of politics (except in rare cases) is there so little attention paid to your sector? Yet it is a sector that employs thousands of employees.
The private law component of the National Health Service exercises an essential role in guaranteeing the universal right to health, the only one recognized as fundamental by our Constitution. Policy has often not allowed us to access the support measures provided for those under public law. The September 2022 Update Note to the Economic and Financial Document shows that resources for health care will record a reduction of 4.6 billion and the ratio of spending to GDP will stand at 6.1 percent, compared to the 6.2 percent indicated in April 2022 in the DEF, well below the OECD average of 7.4 percent. Thus, healthcare spending will suffer a reduction of 2.3 billion (-2.3%) starting in 2023, an additional 3 billion in 2024, and a slight increase of 720 million is expected in 2025, inevitably leading to further delays in the management of waiting lists or other dramatic phenomena such as non-physiological passive mobility and rotation of treatment. The hope is that the new government will reverse these forecasts and put healthcare and the health of the population back at the center of the political agenda.