No revolution is possible if the political and economic system is not changed. Despite the fact that Alberto Fernández He always defined himself as a reformer and not as a revolutionary, some of his phrases from the last days, Certain decisions on the freedom of the economy and the repetition of restrictions on the private production of goods indicate that this paradigm has changed. Or it could have changed.
Some economic players cling to a conclusion endorsed by doctors and psychoanalysts. What happens, they say, are power coups by Cristina Kirchner,disappointed that she cannot achieve the goal of judicial impunity. These brutal acts of power are encrypted messages to the judges to notify them of who is in command of the political nation. It may be that he achieves by means of the facts, and with frightened judges, what he does not achieve with the paraplegic legal reforms.
The last and amazing back and forth of the administration was with a lean increase of prepaid medicine. The Minister of Health, Ginés González García, signed on the morning of December 31 a resolution that authorized a 7 percent increase in prepaid fees from the first day of February. That resolution was supported by several serious arguments about the increase in the cost of medicine during 2020, as read in the official document. In the afternoon of the same day, González García signed a resolution that said the opposite: it simply repealed the previous one. The argument was only one: it erased the increase by order of the President of the Nation.
As the 7 percent increase is supposed to have been discussed by the minister with the President (tariffs are very sensitive matters for the head of state), the most frequent deduction in the world of medicine is that it was Cristina who ordered that inexplicable and shameful jump back. “It is resolution 125 of health,” the director of a well-known sanatorium in the Capital was enraged. They were surprised, above all, by the zigzag of González García; They have known him for more than 40 years. The minister did not call the health providers, did not explain anything to them, and did not send emissaries. Maybe he didn’t know what to say to them. I couldn’t even explain to you the influence of the cost of prepaid medicine on annual inflation – it’s only 0.7 percent.
It may be that this setback means a 125 in its economic consequences, but it is hardly so in its social and political repercussions. Contrary to what agricultural producers did in 2008, prepaid medicine companies cannot rise up or stop. They work with health. A death as a result of their rebellions could destroy their prestige and weaken them in front of the Government.
Two planes must be analyzed. One is the economic one. Inflation in 2020 was around 40 percent. Prepaid services had only a 10 percent increase in a year in which they had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. But the inflation of the Indec is not the only variable that is taken into account to estimate the costs of medicine. The devaluation also influenced, because many of the medical supplies are imported. Or what medicine calls innovation, which are new drugs that replace previous drugs and are much more expensive. Or the benefits that are added by law, such as the practice of abortion or the financing of very expensive remedies for very rare diseases. The consequences are paid by the doctors, whose fees are not updated, and the sanatoriums, who must bill the cost of their benefits without increases.
In such conditions, the government’s purpose may be to suffocate the private health system or directly to nationalize the system, which is the second level, more political than economic, in which recent decisions must be analyzed. This last variant is the most frequent omen among doctors and health providers. You heard Cristina Kirchner in her speech in La Plata, when she challenged Alberto Fernández’s cabinet and promoted a reform of the health system. He didn’t say anything else, but it was enough.
The private health system, which serves prepaid, social works and Pami, took care of 70 percent of the care of those infected by the pandemic. The result was not bad: almost 44,000 deaths among more than a million and a half infected wrongly counted. The percentage of deaths over infected is low. The lack of tests suggests that there could have been twice as many infected, according to private health sources. What would the Government achieve with the nationalization of the health system? Only mobilize the critical social sectors of Kirchnerism, which are precisely those that use the benefits of prepaid services the most. An unnecessary political scandal. Much more serious and enormous than that of the announced and aborted expropriation of Vicentin. Health care is part of people’s daily lives; Vicentin, no.
Why would the government do better what private providers do well? Why, if he couldn’t even effectively deliver the coronavirus vaccination? When almost all Western countries have started massive vaccination campaigns, Argentina has only 300,000 doses (in a country of 44 million inhabitants) of a vaccine, the Russian one, which cannot be applied to those over 60 years of age; that is, to the age group with the highest risk. The vaccine that is being applied in almost every country in the world is that of the North American company Pfizer, but the negotiations here stalled and no one explained why.
Three national opposition deputies, Graciela Ocaña, Alfredo Cornejo and Claudia Najul, They sent a letter to the Argentine representation of Pfizer and to the headquarters of the pharmaceutical company. The headquarters replied that the answer would be given by the Argentine office of the company.
Pfizer’s response to the legislators is only clear and emphatic in a single statement: it never demanded conditions from Argentina that it would not have requested from the rest of the countries of the world. Why, then, are the rest of the countries (or a large part of them) vaccinating with Pfizer and Argentina cannot? Alberto Fernández said publicly that Pfizer asks for conditions that other vaccines do not ask for. According to the letter from that laboratory to Argentine legislators, the conditions for storage and distribution of the vaccine are the same for all countries, including, from now on, those that began to vaccinate. The vaccine must be kept at a temperature of 70 degrees below zero, but you can do it for 30 days by changing the dry ice that each container carries. Once the vaccine is thawed, it can be stored for up to five days under refrigerated conditions; that is, between 2 and 8 degrees. Each container has a thermal sensor, to control that the temperature is correct, and a GPS to track the location throughout the day and night; that information goes directly to Pfizer’s parent company. The conditions are not impossible to fulfill for any more or less efficient and modern healthcare system. This vaccine is being applied by Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica, among many other countries.
The other serious vaccine that began to be applied is that of the British laboratory AstraZeneca, which already has the authorization of the health authority of Great Britain and the Anmat. The Argentine government signed an agreement with that company and with its Argentine partner, the pharmaceutical businessman Hugo Sigman, but the investigations were delayed.
The President publicly wondered why the Russian vaccine is devalued here. There was no answer, but the explanation is simple: because it does not have the authorization of the autonomous entities of Europe and the United States or of any other serious country in the West; because the authorization here was a statement from the Ministry of Health, which is a political and not a technical authority, and because the scientific reports on the vaccine are vague. In fact, they were only published by the Reuters agency; none of the most prestigious scientific publications in the world could spread any of it. Only four countries in the world apply it: Russia, Belarus (an old Soviet republic), Venezuela and Argentina. The President’s question has only one answer: people need the certainty that the remedy will be better than the disease.
Perhaps it is just a geopolitical option. Another contract the government signed is with China for the supply of one million doses of the vaccine produced by the Chinese state company Sinopharm. The President has just said that it is necessary to “put his hand in Justice”, which is exactly what he is prohibited from doing by the Argentine Constitution. These things are done in Putin’s Russia or in the China of an authoritarian Communist Party with a capitalist economic system. If those are the allies of Cristina Kirchner or Alberto Fernández, it means that she makes the Government dance to her melody or that the old reformer has become a revolutionary.
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