Since the May elections wide-ranging changes are being felt in several areas of the country as the policies of the outgoing administrations are overturned by the new regional governments and councils.
One of the most drastic U-turns in the Comunidad Valenciana, the Valencia region which comprises the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Castellón, relates to the subject of health cards and the right to access healthcare for the 30,000 odd illegal immigrants who currently live within the region. Under the previous PP government the healthcare enjoyed by many was restricted only to specific groups during 2012, ie pregnant women and children, forcing illegal immigrants to use the emergency services.
Spain was slated for its policy towards healthcare for illegal immigrants and the media successfully found examples of individuals being turned away from surgeries when requiring medical aid; equally they found many doctors ignoring the law and continuing to treat patients in need, regardless of their residential status.
Now, however, the new regional government is once again to open its doors to illegal immigrants and will issue healthcards to all those who have been resident in the region, and regsitered on their local municipal Padrón for more than three months, Carmen Montón, the regional head of health, maintaining that “the right to healthcare for all is not negotiable’.
The regional government of Valencia is optimistic that health cards can start being issued to 30,000 foreigners who are inscribed on the Padrón in the Comunidad Valenciana despite not being legally resident in Spain by the end of this week, enabling them to gain automatic access to health and medical care.
The cards will be made available to all foreign residents aged over 18 who have been inscribed on their local Padrón for at least three months and who have no other health coverage in Spain, in cases where medical care supplied cannot be charged to their countries of origin.
Now that the computer systems needed in order to produce the cards are ready the final step in preparation is for health service employees to be instructed in how to issue them. These instructions will be given during the week, and by the weekend it is expected that the system will be up and running.
Foreign nationals in Valencia can ask for the card at their nearest health centre, presenting the necessary documentation, and will be issued with a temporary card on the spot. The definitive card should then be ready within a further three months, with beneficiaries able to benefit not only from basic health care but also from specialized hospital treatment and prescribed pharmacological treatment.
This move is designed to help immigrants who until now have been excluded from public health care in the Comunidad Valenciana by a law which was passed in 2012, causing cases where patients have even been charged for care to which they are theoretically entitled, according to Sra Montón.
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