Foreign healthcare investment debate continues in Brazilian senate

July 14, 2013
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The debate in Brazil regarding the allowance of foreign investments in the country's healthcare services system has waged for some time in the political realm. Now it is taking up root on the floor of the Senate as a bill to increase the participation of outside funds is being debated. This is happening during a public hearing of the Economic Affairs Committee.

The current proposal is that hospitals and clinics maintain at least 51 percent of Brazilian equity and there are restrictions on foreign investment for certain services. The law as it is written now prohibits the entry of foreign investment into hospitals and clinics, but that same rule does not apply to health plans, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and diagnostic companies.

Health Minister Alexandre Padilha is on the side of the initiative.

"I am in favor if clear rules on investment are established and in terms of which manner it can be applied to expand private services," Padilha said. "There is deficit of specialized beds, for urgent care and emergency services, diagnostics and for ICUs."

There is outspoken opposition on the other side of the aisle. Ophthalmologist Lottenberg Claudio, the president of the Hospital Albert Einstein, questioned whether this move would benefit the 75 percent of the population that relies on a public healthcare system or just be a way to enrich the controlling groups of hospitals.

Maria do Socorro Souza, the President of the National Health Council, echoed Claudio's argument and added that the priority should be to strengthen the SUS.

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