Colombian Senate Shelves Flagship Health Care Bill As Petro Takes Over Top Insurer

(MENAFN- Live Mint) " (Bloomberg) -- Colombian lawmakers shelved President Gustavo Petro's health care bill while the government stepped up its campaign against private medical care by taking control of the nation's largest insurer.
Senators voted Wednesday to ditch the law that represented one of the cornerstones of Petro's attempt to overhaul the nation's welfare state.
According to state media, the regulator that oversees the insurers will take over the running of Nueva EPS, which has more than ten million users. On Tuesday, the regulator said it will run EPS Sanitas, the second-largest, for one year after it failed to meet financial reserve requirements.
Petro is turning to direct intervention after his efforts to boost state control in health, energy and pensions have failed to prosper as his political coalition frayed.
“The government is trying to forcefully implement this reform through arbitrary interventions,” opposition lawmaker Andres Forero said in a video posted on X, adding that the moves are certain to be challenged in the courts.
After the Sanitas intervention, Health Minister Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo urged users to remain calm, and said services will continue as usual. The government holds a 49.9% share in Nueva EPS through the finance ministry, while the rest is privately owned.
The health insurers, known as entidades promotoras de salud, have warned that delays in payments and insufficient government transfers have put their financial viability at risk.
ANDI, Colombia's biggest business association, said in a statement that around half of the nation's population now depends on the government for health care provision.
Colombia's Inspector General Margarita Cabello told reporters that her office received a request from Sanitas to monitor the process.
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