La Jornada – Specialty medical services are free: Reyes Terán

Mexico City. Specialty medical services are included in the federal health plan. Since December 2020 they are free and, although the economic resources -8 billion pesos- have been available since then, due to corruption and administrative inefficiency, in some places patients continue to pay for medicines, devices and healing material, said Gustavo Reyes Terán , head of the Coordinating Commission of the National Institutes of Health and High Specialty Hospitals (CCINSHAE).

Never before had a calculation been made of what the hospital out-of-pocket expense represented. The amount of 8 billion pesos –in addition to the regular operating budget– was defined through surveys with patients about what they spent during their hospitalization.

“Who knows how” they got the money and performed the surgeries and treatments that were prescribed for them. They had to buy hip or knee endoprostheses, fracture reduction plates and screws, pacemakers and various devices for managing heart disease, all of which were expensive and often in the places where the doctors indicated, that is, it has been a source of corruption, he said.

In interview with the day, Reyes Terán commented that the National Institute of Public Health carried out the economic study, based on which the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit authorized the money in 2021 and 2022. For the 26 institutes, federal and regional hospitals of high specialty that depend on CCINSHAE represented an increase of between 30 to 80 percent of its economic resources last year, so “there is no excuse: patients do not have to pay anything. The service is free,” he maintained.

He anticipated that more money will be needed for patients who previously could not cover the cost of medicines, devices and healing material and who would not have returned to hospitals. “That happened, people could not pay and went home with the pain of the unattended fracture or to die with the disease without treatment.”

With the transformation of the health system, under the coordination of IMSS-Wellness to guarantee access to medical care for people without social security, it is expected that there will be a link between the first, second and third level of care. This year is a transition year, so that in 2023 the referral of patients to highly specialized hospitals is effective, as well as free medicines, the official explained.

Reyes Terán revealed evidence of the corruption and administrative inefficiency that has prevailed in national institutes and highly specialized hospitals, which are decentralized public bodies, that is, they have management autonomy.

Among other anomalies are unfinished works. There was money for each one, but “with pretexts, the directors stole the money.”

The National Institute of Pediatrics began the construction of a building in 2013 and stopped in 2015. The head of CCINSHAE pointed to former director Alejandro Serrano Sierra as responsible, who lasted 10 years in office (2011-2021) and did nothing to finish that job, he said.

Another case is the National Institute of Perinatology, with a work that began in 2008. It stopped in 2010 and is still in black work there.

Reyes Terán also highlighted the situation of the Manuel Gea González General Hospital, where in addition to an unfinished tower, detained since 2019, there are severe questions about the management of former director Octavio Sierra Martínez. “It could be the same or worse than what we detected at the Manuel Velasco Suárez National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery” in 2019, where surgical equipment was kept and patients had to pay rent with private providers. Due to these and other anomalies, the then director, Miguel Ángel Celis, was dismissed.

Reyes Terán pointed out that it is necessary to complete the aforementioned works and other essential ones in the hospitals for Women, General of Mexico and the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, among others.