Fine threat to Spanish regions over health care for illegal immigrants backfires

Image - The Guggenheim, Bilbao: nito/

THE Spanish government issued a stern warning to four regions that have decided to issue health cards to migrants who don’t have residency papers in place, threatening fines of millions of euros.

Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Aragon and Cantabria have all passed laws that sidestep a decree put in place by the conservative PP government in 2012 banning health care for illegal immigrants.

Health Minister Rubén Moreno said recently that those regions choosing to work round the ruling would face “catastrophic” consequences, including “multi-million” euro fines.

However, the telling-off has apparently had the opposite effect for that intended, with more regions – Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura – saying they planned to extend access to health care to illegal immigrants.

The premier of Madrid region, Cristina Cifuentes, said there was a “moral” imperative to modify the system, which prompted a response from central government, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announcing at the weekend that there would be a national model developed to ensure access to primary health care for migrants with irregular status.

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