October 17 ,2013 | By Márcio Barra
According to a recently release draft version of the Portuguese’s state budget for 2014, the health budget for the coming year will decrease 9.4%, compared to 2013 (an 847.8 million decrease), alongside a 259 million cut in healthcare expenses.
Of the projected 8.2039 billion euros, the Portuguese National Health Service will receive 7.5821 billion euros, down 3.8% from 2013. 86.9 % of this value is meant for the acquisition of goods and services, with staff costs amounting to 18.3 million euros.
These cuts are, according to the document, due to “changes in the contribution rate in the General Pension Fund, which will generate an estimated 70 million euros in health costs”.
To achieve this goal, the Portuguese Ministry of Health will push forward a series of cost containment measures, some of them ongoing, including:
- Mandatory electronic prescription of drugs when these are covered by public reimbursement,
- Returning hospital’s control over to Misericórdias,
- Publication of new clinical guidelines and implementation of an audit system for these guidelines,
- Promotion of generic drugs use and monitoring the implementation of prescription and dispensing of drugs by international common denomination,
- Development of systems to improve debt collection of users of the National Health Service,
- Further drug re-pricing, according to the prices of the reference countries (currently Spain, France and Slovakia)
- Rationalizing expenses of complementary means of diagnosis and therapy
In late 2011, the National Health Service had an estimated three billion euros of debt to suppliers. Over the last two years, several debt settlement programs with pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies were signed, allowing the NHS to significantly reduce the debt and stay afloat.
“However, the financial imbalances persist, especially at the hospitals,” reads the document, further stating that “in 2014, the downward trend in spending will have to be further pursued, in order to offset reductions in State Budget transfers”.