This is the story of those fallen victim to the Spanish government’s health policies and a system in which money has the last word.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] People in the demonstration: “This is not budget Reduction. This is murder.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Mario Cortez: “A budget reduction will result in the destruction of our health.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “What about individual lives? How much does the life of a human being cost?”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “We are incurring costs, therefore we have the right to be heard!”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Protesters: “This is murder!”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Mr. Gafas: “They are unquestionably deceiving us with this budget reduction.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Mario Cortez: “This is something that has directly to do with peoples’ lives.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “This is terrible! What is presently happening in this country is terrible.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Protesters: “These are not budget cuts. These are murders.”
Narration: Spain's public health system is a worldwide system, a system which is the pride of those who have developed it. Starting April, 2012, underwent a series of unprecedented reforms, which have caused the deterioration of the public's health and of Human rights.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Juan Luis Ruiz Gimenez, Primary Care Physician: “In less than half a century, in a 50 year period, by enduring a lot of hardship, Spain became able to launch a process of change and to create a model of health services, which would be international, of high quality, public and easily accessible for everyone.”
Narration: The history of Spain's Public Health Care System goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, with the establishment of the National Forecast Institute. In 1978 Spain started developing a system, which worked with public and government funds. In 1988 every Spanish citizen who paid taxes was covered by this system.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Espiner, Spokesman for Doctors of the World Valencia: “In 2012, Spain's government started considering an important reduction in the health system's budget of about 30 billion Euros.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Juan Luis Ruiz Gimenez, Primary Care Physician: “In that year they decided to reduce the budget gradually so that in 2016 it would reach 5.1% of the GNP, meaning 1100 Euros for every citizen for one year.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Espiner, Spokesman for Doctors of the World Valencia: “They wanted to reduce the budget so that, on one hand, the illegal immigrant population would be deprived of the health support scheme (According to Article 2 of the constitutional law, which clearly provides for the deprivation of the illegal immigrants.); and on the other hand, with the increase by 10% of the payment share for the majority of the society and increase, for the first time, of the share of the retired population.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rafael Sotoca, President for Doctors of The World, Valencia: “When you exclude a group of people from the support scheme in particular a group, which is more vulnerable, (since these people have the hardest time accessing private health services - now you can imagine how private health services behave!, you accept a danger and you lose control of the events that occur in that group in all levels, from prevention of illnesses through to the scheduling of children's vaccinations or the early diagnoses of health problems in the elderly in connection with symptoms of contagious diseases. And this is a decision that Spain's government is taking wrongfully. This budget reduction was done with one justification and that was to insure the stability of the Health care system. According to the Spanish Government itself more than 833 thousand health cards were repealed in the first stage of the budget reduction.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Espiner, Spokesman for Doctors of the World Valencia: “We do not know whether this number represents exactly the people put aside, or what? Does it include children? Not only were their health cards invalidated, but they were even erased from the health system's databases. At times they aren't even allowed to retrieve their clinical records and reports. Even in cases where they may need emergency health assistance they wouldn't be able to access their records!”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rafael Sotoca, President for Doctors of The World, Valencia: “However, since they can't entirely ignore people who have health problems, if they want to avoid saying they left them out in the streets, they say instead that they will be taken care of in the hospital emergency departments; but any person with the slightest commonsense, (not only those employed in this sector), could understand that a health problem that wasn't dealt with by the family doctor and is sent to emergency, is because we have waited for the patient's state to worsen enough, for him or her, to require transfer to the emergency room. Definitely the cost wouldn't be any less!”
Narration: What are the consequences of these reforms: The reduction of economic budget, crisis, stability …? What is the true aim of these reforms?
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] A protester: “23rd of May 2014 one of Jeanneth's friends took her to the hospital's emergency department. Jeanneth's condition was critical. She had pain in half her head; her vision was blurred, and she could barely see anything.”
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Yanina Tenorio, Jeanneth's cousin: “Jeanneth came here in June 2012. She was looking for a better life, like all of us, like all those who have come here. She had dreams, like all those who have come here to Spain to realize their dreams but she passed away here. I dare say that she was a great person. She was always smiling. She wanted to take all her savings to Nicaragua to begin a successful career there. Now we are at the hospital where my cousin, Jeanneth Beltran Martinez, died after being taken to the emergency room, according to Adriana. One day, she felt ill. She had a headache and a blurred vision. Adriana and her husband took her to hospital. At reception, she was asked if she had an ID card. Since Jeanneth was not able to talk at that moment, Adriana answererd that she had no new card issued in Spain. Jeanneth began to throw up something black. Adriana hurriedly got her a plastic bag. She begged the nurse to help Jeanneth and hospitalize her but no one listened to her. Her husband told her to go to another medical center. Adriana helped Jeanneth get up but she couldn’t bear her weight, the weight of a dead body. Jeanneth got unconscious in the middle of the corridor. It was only then that a nurse said where to take her. Adriana told he nurse that she was going to take her to another center because she knew they were not going to treat her there. They assured her that they were going to treat her immediately. Yes, When Jeanneth had fallen on the floor, the nurses wanted to give her medical treatment. Some nurses took her to a bed to resuscitate her. Ten minutes later, they called Jeanneth’s family from ICU to say that she had passed away and they couldn’t save her. They washed their hands and said that hat the emergency center had done had nothing to do with her death and she was already dead before being taken to the room.
The autopsy report shows that when she was taken to hospital, her kidneys had already been damaged she died because of a disease that could be treated and a physician could treat her completely
The day of 23rd of May at 11:00 PM her friend Adriana, called my aunts. I was in a village at that time. She called my aunt and told her that Jeanneth had died in the hospital's emergency department! We went to the hospital, entered the emergencies'. They didn't tell us anything. We, I and my three aunts, went to the reception counter. We waited there till three security guards came near. We asked them about Jeanneth Beltran Martinez and they replied that she was in "stimulus?!" and we can't see her. But as far as we know if someone refers to hospital emergencies', having a serious problem, whatever the nationality, he or she should be taken under care.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] A protester: “While Ara Mato denies health discrimination, people like Soledad, Torrico, Alba Pam, Jeanneth Beltran die from illnesses that are easily curable.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Yanina Tenorio, Jeanneth's cousin: “Last Tuesday (eight days ago), Adriana called me saying there is a letter for Jeanneth that contains a bill. They let her die, and yet they send us a bill! In the letter it was written: "For the care that was taken for the patient in the emergencies department". Her family wonders where they can get the money from. It is a large amount. Here in Toledo her family can't afford the cost. Talk about her relatives in Nicaragua! I believe it was 2,000 to 5,200 Euros. I do not understand what has happened here. Budget reduction, Budget reduction…. of course, but what about people's lives?!”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:29
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Fernando Mura, Spokesman for PSOE Toledo Health Service: “The problem that we have here is: the budget reduction that was done, due to the crisis in Catilla La Mancha's health sector is deplorable. And many times these reductions have been applied to people, without thinking. They don't look at people's eyes, they just think of squaring numbers. Budget reforms have to be done, but not in a way that would cause carelessness towards people's needs. It isn't right to number the corridors from 1 to 18 in an emergency building and suspend serums from nails driven into walls. People eat, sleep and even die in these corridors and this is while 150 hospital beds lay empty.”
Narration: Until the approval of the Royal decision in 2012, joining one's family meant that parents of legal immigrants could join their children in Spain and become residents and enjoy the same free health services that legal citizens do.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Unknown Woman: “I came to Spain on 12th June, 2008 and was employed in a multinational company. I was legally here from the beginning. I always wanted to bring my father over to live with me. Since I lost my mother and I have no siblings, my father and I just have each other. My father has a special health condition; he has chronic lung congestion and has to be on oxygen 24 hours a day. No one told us that he would be regarded as an ‘uncommon citizen’, meaning he wouldn't be covered by the health care system, which was of the utmost priority, considering my father's condition. His life depends on constant medical monitoring, specific drugs, and oxygen.
We went to the social security department and they told us that a social security scheme does not exist for the parents of immigrants. So we contacted the Madrid Health Association. In somewhat of a harsh tone they told us that we should apply for private insurance.
We approached private insurance institutions such as Sanitas, Mapfre, Adeslas and others but they would not issue an insurance contact for my father - neither with, nor without money! Nothing! All roads were closed. Why not? It is because we are talking about a man who will be 80 years old this year and these companies’ policies limit the age requirement to 65 years as well as having to have at least 18 years of medical history.
The only solution was to wait one more year when my father would be eligible to become a legal citizen and we would be able to have him insured with social security on a monthly endowment of 150 Euros. My question is: What should I do with my father in the meantime? He depends 24 hours a day on oxygen and his lungs are practically destroyed. Two months have gone by since my father came to Spain, and during these two months he has ventured outside our home twice. Fortunately, the WHO (World Health Organization) helped us by providing a home supply of oxygen; but they still haven't been able to supply portable oxygen tubes, although they are trying. The two occasions my father traveled outside were for the purpose of give fingerprints and applying for an I.D. card. at the foreign nationals office.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Anush Karapetian, Victim: “We are from Armenia. My wife and children and I all moved here together. My mother has come to visit us as well. Soon after she became ill, so we took her to the hospital's emergency center. They told us that her kidneys were failing and that she should be hospitalized. She was hospitalized and when she was discharged they told me to sign a number of papers. I asked why and they said that they will send me a bill of costs, but I won't have to pay anything. Three or four years later I received a letter from the Tax office saying that I am obligated to pay 13000 Euros! How is that possible!? I do not understand.”
TIME CODE: 15:29 _20:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Amparo Picazo, Doctors of the World, Valencia: “His mother was put on dialysis. She had been given a kidney and normally would be covered through her children's insurance, but because of this Royal decision, she was left without insurance cover and then after the sanction was imposed, her health card expired. Yes, they performed the transplant for her, but there was no consideration of post operation care! When a transplant operation is performed the post operation care is crucial in order to see whether your body accepts or rejects the organ.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rafael Sotoca, President for Doctors of The World, Valencia: “When, for instance, a family wishes to open a bank account, or when you suddenly get laid off of your job, or when you lose your right to residency, in other words you want to stabilize your present situation in Spain, in all these cases you are confronted with a serious problem. The administration machine displays a list of your outstanding debts and this can definitely put you in a difficult situation. Such procedures instill fear in people and cause a lot of hardship. Even for simple things such as a family doctor visit or for every small problem they will face difficulties and eventually they will be confined to a poor living.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Anush Karapetian, Victim: “I can't pay 500 Euros a month for a drug, 30 pills per day! These pills I am talking about. Sorry! My legs and all my body is aching. I can't walk. My hands are hurting. They don't sell this drug in my country. You can find it only in Europe. So if I decide to return to my country some day. I will not be able to survive.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Amparo Picazo, Doctors of the World, Valencia: “What I don't understand is that the government pays for a transplant operation, but doesn't pay for the post operation care! Because if this woman doesn't take her medicine, in less than a month her body will reject the kidney and she would have to undergo dialysis again. In addition to that the organ that has been offered by a benevolent individual will have to be thrown in the trash! All the effort would be in vain and futile!”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Anush Karapetian, Victim: “What can we do in order to be able to rectify this woman's documents issue? This is such a difficult situation! What can I say?”
Narration: The repercussions of this law go well beyond Spain to where it affects all people in the European Union; people who are deprived of the healthcare system because of the bureaucracy among the Union member countries.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Jose Maria Martinez Picon, Secretary: “After the implementation of reforms in the health care sector, the things that changed were, in the first place, that immigrants could get residence only on condition of having a work offer for more than three months or showing in a way that they have enough income to pay for their own expenses and wouldn't need government assistance; and in addition, that they have health insurance of their own.
Well, in this case a great part of the east European gypsy population, Romanians and Bulgarians, do not have any of these requirements. If they could obtain health insurance from their homeland they wouldn't have any problem, but their children would face problems and would be excluded from the national health plan.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Jose Maria Martinez Picon, Secretary: “When a European person comes to Spain and does not have health insurance, for instance from Germany or other west European countries, he or she will probably know the needed information and have enough money to buy private insurance and thus be insured. But many migrant families are poor and when they come to Spain for work and don’t have the right to reside in Spain, they somehow still manage to make a living. Their children go to school here and are looked upon as poor children who dig into trash cans for pieces of metal to sell. This is a problem that could be easily solved among countries, through cooperation between Spain's insurance organization and Romania's or Bulgaria's, so that such pressures would beremoved from poor immigrant families.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rositsa Dopbebo, Victim: “I am from Bulgaria. I came here three and a half years ago. I met my child's father here in Spain. I have lived with him all these years. He is Bulgarian, too. We asked a social counselor whether I could have a health card. She told us that we should be officially married and have lived at least one year together. But we are not officially married. The counselor told us that since the child's father works here, he could provide his child with a health card, but not get one for me. So when I was told that I was pregnant and performed a pregnancy test and went to the hospital to give birth, afterward they sent me a bill that I must pay. It was actually for the hospitalization period, for baby and mother care. They said that if you don't have health insurance you should pay for your costs yourself and if you don't, you would go to jail! With all the rent, electricity, phone and other bills, how could I afford these hospital expenses?”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Jose Maria Martinez Picon, Secretary: “Well I have with me another bill that concerns another pregnant woman, to show you that this was not a singular case. This one has to do with a lady who gave birth in an itinerant emergency center without any problem. The sum payable on the bill is 2265.86 Euros. Precisely the person who is most in need, is excluded from the health care coverage. Here is another bill issued for a child who was examined in an emergency center. It amounts to 413.42 Euros yet usually for emergency, in this type of case, a bill is not issued. Then they came and said that these bills are not to be cashed and are for registration purposes only. But I have here a fine issued to a poor family who didn’t pay a bill concerning their children. I am mentioning this because due to this fine and it remaining as a debt on the system, I wonder if next year they will be entitled to food coupons or not.”
Narration: After these reforms many employees within the health care sector along with other benevolent individuals took measures to try to get the authorities to revert Spain's health care system back to how it used to be.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Juan Luis Ruiz Gimenez, Primary Care Physician: “A portion of health sector employees resisted and said that there is no way they should submit to the Royal decision. Firstly because we consider it illegal since it doesn't have the support of the majority of the population, and secondly, because we are forced to comply with it! Compliance would mean in a way to be in breach of all the moral principles of our profession. For this reason we continued our work professionally and will treat all the people in society. And we won't deprive anyone.”
TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Alvaro Garcia Rodriguez, Yes Platform for Universal Health: “We extend our helping hands out to people who have remained outside of the health care system so that they could join the system. We help them if they need to have access to doctors. It is interesting that the government hasn't been able to explain the very nature of this Royal decision. In some cases when you apply it to people you get a complete sense of racial discrimination.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Monica Munoz, Yes Platform for Universal Health: “Since people are not quite familiar with their duties and work routines, when they want to do something they are afraid whether or not it is in line with their work code. Therefore we need to explain the circumstances thoroughly and clearly.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Enrique Castro, Yes Platform for Universal Health: “There are many ways of putting off or discouraging a patient. They do whatever they can to discourage them either by bureaucratic expediency or even try to send the patient home. Whenever they can they try to send you home.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Pablo Meseguer, Yes Platform for Universal Health: “For instance they even have a series of catalogues in the emergency departments that give information to the patients. In these catalogues it is written that without health care cards people will not be taken charge of. This is wrong, and emergency personnel have the duty to welcome everyone, with or without a health card. We are constantly saying that we do not intend to break the law, but we also must try to defend the rights of people.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rabab Badri, Victim: “I am from Morocco. I was six years old when we came to Spain, me and my aunt. And I lived with her till the age of 14. When I came to Spain I resided here legally because my aunt had gone through all the legal procedures. When my residence period expired and since my aunt did not intend to help me anymore I wasn't able to extend my stay legally. I had reached the legal age and I had to find someone who would take charge of me. I have three kids and I have been living in Spain illegally since 2005. When I felt a tumor in my breast, I really didn't know what to do. Once, I went to the hospital emergency center. They told me that I didn't need to pay anything! When I got back home though, I received a 180 Euros bill. I didn't pay it because I didn't have it.
I have no job therefore I have no income, so I can't pay for such fees. Previously, they used to accept me, even though I didn't have a health card, just a passport. But with the change of law neither the doctors nor the hospital accepts me! My son has a similar tumor as I have, and that grieves me. That is why I went to the emergency center, to be examined. There they told me that I have a tumor and that I should go to the Infanta Leonor or to Gregorio Maranon hospital. I went to Gregorio Maranon. I was told that I have two tumors one of which is more serious than the other. I had to go to a family doctor to be prescribed a mammography, but I don’t have a family doctor so I didn't go. In the end, through the help of an association I got accepted and I am waiting for a series of tests to be conducted, and a sonography as well.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Juan Luis Ruiz Gimenez, Primary Care Physician: “This case was delegated to me by our assistance group. We saw the patient’s accession form in the file and also in our work and health agenda. This achievement is due to the administrative unit's efforts through which I have been able to study and to take care of the necessary researches and tests that it needed.
I still see this patient. She is still under my care though she does not have a health card. In addition to that we are trying through social aid mechanisms to have her recognized officially so she can then get a health-card because this person should by now have been a citizen of this country and have her problem solved. She has three kids who are Spanish citizens and for this reason she deserves to receive what's rightfully hers.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rabab Badri, Victim: “Without official papers you can't do anything. No one can help you. No one can take care of you. So I don't know what will happen… yes, that is the only thing I want, you know, a small job and knowing that my children are healthy.”
TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00
Narration: Not only does the reforms in the health care sector cause harm to immigrants, but many Spanish citizens have had deficiencies in their incomes. The addition of drug cost assistance, which used to be paid by insurance companies, harms the retired and the patients who have chronic illnesses more than anyone else, drugs that they often cannot afford to buy. Reforms, in addition, have caused the health secretary's incapacity to ensure the complete curing of patients, since they assess the treatments as being too expensive.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Mario Cortez, Victim: “I suffer from hepatitis-C. I am in stage 2 right now. I suffer from genotype 4 hepatitis, which is the worst among the existing genotypes. It doesn’t respond like other cases to interferon with Rebamilina. They discovered my illness through an ordinary blood sample they took from me. I don't know how I got it. We suspect that my wife might have been infected during her surgery when she lost her child. She received a shot and we wonder if that shot contained the disease. My wife was treated with interferon for six months in 2007 and got well.
I have been sick for one year now and I am not healing. My illness is worsening. The most heartbreaking consequence for me was to lose my job. I was a telephone operator. When my condition got worse due to the side effects of chemical treatments, they threw me out. Anyone who has done a blood transfusion or any other checkup in a surgical center in Spain might be infected with the hepatitis-C virus, because before 1990 there was no protocol for identifying this virus. Many of the hepatitis cases like mine have been contracted from inside this health care system.
There are new revolutionary drugs that have entered the market. These kinds of drugs are invented every 40 or 50 years. They can cure 95% of hepatitis patients. Almost everyone is cured. But for my case the government says that the treatment is very expensive. With the money that was stolen by Barcenas or Urdangarin, many of the patients could have received their medication and got cured. Right now close to 3,000 emergency cases exist who will die in the few months to come, and like always the government keeps on lying to us, taking us for fools, and we continue our lives.
According to the law whenever a drug is registered with Spain's pharmaceutical organization, after three months it then appears on the health system's drug list. One of those drugs was registered in January, the other in March and though we are now in July the drugs still have not been added to the list. I should also say that Gileaz laboratories were the first to have manufactured these drugs and that is why it intends to price it very high. According to investigations that we conducted, in order to produce a pill, laboratories spend 3 Euros, but this laboratory offers the drug in Europe for 650 to 700 Euros.
This is about people's lives here and we have the right to cure ourselves. We, our fathers, our brothers, grandfathers are working all our lives. We pay for health insurance and these men from the Populist-party come and say that they have no money. They change the social policies and reduce all the supports, not only in the health sector, but also they have altered the guardianship laws.
Money is not really the issue; the problem is actually shortcomings of management. If you have 70,000 Euros you go to a private hospital and the next day you pay the 70,000 Euros and you are healed. But the poor working-class does not have that kind of money and is condemned to death.
This conduct that they have towards the sick is the same as conducting a massacre. In order to save a bank or determine a new monarch and bring them to sovereignty they make laws. For treating the sick and taking care of the people they do nothing.”
TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Video from Mario in the demonstration: “My name is Mario Cortez. I am infected with hepatitis-C and have been for 18 years now and as well my liver has fibrosis. The health minister says they won't give me the drug that can cure my disease.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Mario Cortez, Victim: “Budget reduction in the health care system is deadly.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Protesters: “Public health system, public health system …..”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “Nearly 20 years ago we found out that we were infected with the hepatitis-C disease and around the year 2009 a cure was found. Our doctor in the Getafe hospital told us that there is now a cure, but it costs a lot. The drug was called Interferon and has acute side effects. But I knew that if I didn't get rid of this illness I might get cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, so I said that I want to be treated right away. But he advised me to wait a little and now my condition has become worse and more acute.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Saturnino Cobo, Victim: “I could have waited a little because I was not feeling all that bad and in case I was to be treated somewhat later there wouldn't be any problem.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “My treatment has ended, I have been cured and it has been three years that I have been well. But we were in for another surprise. One afternoon we went to the doctor and were told that my husband's hepatitis had turned into cirrhosis of the liver. It felt like the heavens had fallen onto our heads. We said that we wanted to start the interferon treatment right away.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Saturnino Cobo, Victim: “I could not undergo the treatment. I could not receive yet another treatment because the side effects would be just too much and it was very risky. But it doesn't worry me very much because in January, 2014 when I was under treatment, there was still another treatment, which I could have chosen to receive. Spain is in a crisis. That’s what it is. We go to the doctors and they tell us that in Spain these drugs are not available.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “My only hope from deep in my heart is to go to another hospital and have a transplant operation for my husband.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Saturnino Cobo, Victim: “As far as I know a transplant operation costs about 150,000 Euros, which is more expensive than the drug treatment.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “It is unbelievable how narrow-minded they can be. How unable they are to think about the long-term.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rafael Sotoca, President of Doctors Of The World, Valencia: “The more we think about it, the more we come to the conclusion that these contrivances will not result into a lowering of costs. People will soon find out that these proposed plans will not only result in no decrease in costs and investments, but will cause problems in accessing drugs and the patient's primary needs; and in some cases the patients have to pay for a drug, which they may not even use. In this respect no one explains to us how much this law has helped decreasing the costs.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Espiner, Spokesman for Doctors of the World Valencia: “There have been two court orders of the constitutional law in the Basque and Navarro provinces, which have approved of this notion that the realization of government's economic aims is impossible. The only thing that it has been more or less able to accomplish is to create excess costs, meaning payment of the 10% health stipend by the people - in particular the more vulnerable people.
This aim has of course been materialized and in a way it has turned into earnings for the government.
What had not been considered is that people who have to pay insurance premiums, have to consume less drugs, go less to their family doctor, and it goes to show that this reduction in costs is more of a political stunt or maneuver for the elections rather than genuine support for peoples’ health and offering health care services to the citizens of Spain.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “I don't know, are we too much trouble!? No. we are ordinary people. An ordinary group of people… how can I say … who live simply, with a government that does not want us; which does not consider us as its citizens.
My husband was an ordinary individual who went to work each day, but suddenly our entire life crumbled, though we sought little from it.”
TIME CODE: 40:00_45:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “It was a simple life. I tell you now, my parents had hepatitis-C, but fortunately my daughter was born free of it. It is not visible, but we know that she is suffering in her heart. It is natural. Just twenty years of age she has to contemplate her father's fading away, and for such a stupid reason. It is hard, very hard. We went to Congress. Over there the chairman of the Health Commission, Mario Domingo Zapatero welcomed us, but didn't explain anything more, or give us any guidance. He just told us that it is beyond his powers. We were shocked. What is he doing there then?! Then he left us. I believe this is a great disrespect towards people who are in the grips with the hepatitis-C disease because we are human beings, not numbers. How good would it have been if he had taken this matter to the health commission and heard what others had to say?”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Saturnino Cobo, Victim: “They did not tell me or warn me that I have a one year ‘safe margin’, or twelve months left to live. They told that I am at stage four, which is the last one. It is very tiresome. I have lost my appetite, I eat very seldom. I used to weigh 72 kilos, but I am weighing only 56 now.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “So far there is no conclusion. It is hard for me to hear that they don't want to save my husband, and instead they want to save a highway that no one till today has ever used! That instead of saving him they want to carry on with the Olympic games in Madrid. It also has to do with the provinces… which provinces buy and which ones don’t. I believe that all Spanish citizens are equal. We all have equal rights. If our state buys, the other states should buy, too.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Saturnino Cobo, Victim: “It has always been that the last people that are given any heed are us, the sick and the weak. It is we who have always struggled with hardships. I am saying this because there are people who are on the brink of dying.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Belen Martin, Victim's wife: “Today, hepatitis-C is the enemy. Tomorrow it will be another disease threatening people's lives. How much is a human life worth? I have to struggle all the way through, so that my husband also can regain his health.”
Narration: In July 2014, after months of criticism, the Spanish government succeeded in finding a permanent cure for the hepatitis-C disease. It proved however, to be more of a state policy for shutting up critics' voices. This drug is not what the patients expected.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “We are from Colombia, the city of Cali. I have been living in Spain for 15 years. My mother has been living here with me for five years now. The living conditions in Columbia were atrocious, there were no jobs. Insecurity was raging. Two of my brothers had been killed. All of this had made living there very difficult for us and had forced us to leave. One of my cousins lived in Palencia. She sent me a letter of invitation to come to Spain. I obtained a residence card through a job offer that I received - the job of cleaning the Royal court. They arranged for my residence and later I arranged for the residence of my parents. All our health costs were covered and everything went well.
My parents used to live with my brothers in the United States. They obviously had no health insurance and had to put up with their illnesses. My brothers also told me that because of poor employment opportunities, they could not support my parents and so my parents had to come to Spain and live with me. I quickly completed the paperwork necessary to have them over. They have been living here now for 11 years.
Right now, as in 2008, my father has contracted a serious heart problem and I was advised he should be transferred to Leon and undergo a heart operation as soon as possible. He survived his surgery and was getting better. He then transferred back here to Burgos.
During the period I was in Leon I had my health card and my parent's residence card in my purse. I had never paid any attention to their date of expiration, but they had expired and so I couldn’t get it renewed on time. My mother wanted to go to the doctor, but she got rejected. They said that her name was not in the system and therefore they couldn't give her any services. My mother has diabetes; she also suffers from bipolar disorder, high blood pressure, thyroid and chronic dermatitis. She has had a very hard life, very, very hard! She had a torturous life in her early childhood; people had killed her mother with a scythe.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Retrepo, Victim: “My father found her. She was hidden beneath some branches.”
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SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “She should have stayed with them. How many were they?”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Retrepo, Victim: “Eight.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “There were eight kids.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Retrepo, Victim: “The youngest one was nine years old.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “The youngest one was a nine year old child. My father had to gather alms to be able to support them.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Retrepo, Victim: “I am living with the grief of my two sons.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “The death of my two brothers, of course! Doctors said that it is entirely the cause of the bipolar disorder from which she is suffering now. These words motivated me to find an attorney. I said to myself that things can't remain like this. I can't let her die. I found an attorney: Gustavo Prieto Paolo, who came forward like an angel searching for the truth.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Gustavo Prieto Paolo, Attorney: “They had lost their residence cards, but because of their daughter's Spanish nationality they were given permission to renew it. As soon as this was accomplished, we thought that they wouldn't have any problem in receiving their health cards.
Margarita and Louis received their local residence cards. If I remember right, it was in August or September, which was after 24th April, 2012. According to the circular of the National Institute of Social Security Insurance, people who joined the system or had left the system after 24th April, 2012 were not covered. According to this new law, if you are paying your insurance premium, you benefit from the health insurance.
I remember that Margarita and Louis's cards were in this category. They were covered by insurance because of their daughter - their daughter always paid her health insurance premium. But this wasn't good enough for the Social Security National Institute. They weren't able to work because of their health problems and needed support more than anyone else.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “I told him that right now I am not employed, but I am looking for a way to be able to pay him gradually, so that he'd be kind enough to prepare the documents. He told me: “Margarita, do not worry. I don't expect any money from you. I won't accept any money, because they should not have done anything like this to your parents.””
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Gustavo Prieto Paolo, Attorney: “Well, see?! This case was mentioned in the Castia and Leone high court of justice in an appreciative way, through the social court of justice and after that, through the Social Security National Institute. And there, also, they clearly acknowledged that Mrs. Margarita is a legal citizen.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Margarita Polo, Victim's daughter: “Anyway, my mother and I both have social security insurance. We pay our taxes - all of us, not only me, but all the Spanish citizens. We are all paying taxes. And therefore I believe that we all have the right to have health insurance.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Juan Luis Ruiz Gimenez, Primary Care Physician: “This is tantamount to the fact that during the four years in which extreme policies of austerity have been applied, the health care system has been moving towards extinction.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rafael Sotoca, President of Doctors of the World, Valencia: “For more than 20 years the health care system has not been supported by any insurance premiums paid by the working class or any payment contract with Social Security Insurance. For years the health system has functioned exclusively from people's taxes, and people could enjoy the benefits of the health system by merely being legal residents.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Juan Luis Ruiz Gimenez, Primary Care Physician: “The health care system is not for free. It is a system that functions based on the financial support of the population. Therefore we are all paying our shares.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Man with glasses on: “What we are left with, at the end, is actually privatization on the pretext of social safety and security. When people see, that in the public health system, they have trouble affording health services… If they have money, no problem, for instance I could pay 300 Euros for a gastroscopy in the hospital, but for those who don't have the money, then they'll just have to come to terms with it.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rafael Sotoca, President of Doctors of the World, Valencia: “This law is meaningless. It should be discarded. We have to rebuild this ‘real universality’, because it will be only through this, we all believe, that civil society, civil bases, and professional people, will embody their common meaning.”