Zagreb - The parliamentary opposition on Wednesday welcomed a bill that would increase the eligibility threshold for supplementary health insurance which would be financed from the budget but noted that it was a pre-election move.
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Ivan Ćelić rejected the Opposition's claim that this was a pre-election move, saying that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković had announced in December that the eligibility threshold would be corrected.
"This is a clear sign that the election will be in July, this is a PR trick... the Government wants to buy pensioners with 40 or 50 kunas and get their votes cheaply," MP Mirando Mrsić said during a debate on amendments to the health insurance legislation.
The bill increases the income cut-off point for supplementary health insurance eligibility to HRK 1,563 per family member or HRK 2,000 for single households.
MP Silvano Hrelja of the Pensioners' Party (HSU) recalled that his party had submitted a similar proposal however the Government rejected it, saying that funds for that purpose had not been secured in the state budget.
"Funds for this bill have not been reserved in the 2020 or 2021 budget either, but the time they will be found," he said.
Presenting the bill, Health Minister Vili Beroš said that it was obvious that the measure would burden the state budget, however, the Government had decided to go ahead with it in an effort to protect the most vulnerable groups in society.
"The Finance Ministry has been informed of the bill and has committed to securing the funds in the 2020 budget forecast," Beroš told lawmakers.
The Government has estimated that the new measure will enable an additional 200,000 people to be eligible for supplementary health insurance at the expense of the budget and this will require and additional HRK 160 million.