Bulgarian President Roumen Radev vetoed on December 8 the 2018 budget of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), specifically a provision precluding the Fund from covering costs of newly-developed drugs.
The provision only affects drugs that have been recently certified and have not been included in the list of drugs the costs of which are fully or partially covered by NHIF, as well as drugs that have been included in that list but were due to be covered starting in 2018.
In a statement, the presidency’s media office said that Radev believed that this provision would result in discriminatory treatment and affected the constitutional right to affordable healthcare.
“The limited financial resource for healthcare requires optimisation and oversight of spending, but it cannot come at the expense of the constitutional rights of citizens and social justice,” the statement said.
NHIF is the independent government agency that manages the collection of mandatory health care insurance and parcels out the funds to the health care system, including state subsidies to hospitals and partial coverage of medicine costs for patients.
Its budget is one of the three main budget laws passed by Parliament each year, alongside the social security budget that handles pension payments and the national budget – together, the three form the country’s consolidated fiscal programme.
Parliament will next have to vote on Radev’s veto and can overturn it by a simple majority of 121 MPs. In that case, the president can choose to pursue the matter further by referring it to the Constitutional Court, whose decision is final. With Parliament expected to go on its winter holidays recess next week, a vote on the veto could come within days.