Constitutional Court postpones decision on “unconstitutional” doctor’s fees
The Constitutional Court in Brno has postponed a decision on whether symbolic fees for visiting the doctor are unconstitutional. The court’s chairman Pavel Rychetský said the court needed more time to reach a decision. He was speaking after a day of deliberations and cross-examination with the health minister and even the prime minister appearing to give testimony.
The government says the fees are to dissuade people from abusing the health system, but Mr Julínek was asked several times whether those fees were purely symbolic or represented something tangible. Also in the dock on Wednesday was Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who appeared in Brno to defend his government’s legislation.
Mr Topolánek said without the government’s unpopular and controversial reforms, the health system would simply collapse. Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetský told reporters afterwards the court needed more time to formulate its position, and would release a verdict at the next session on the matter. He did not say when that would be.
Critics say it meant nothing of the sort, and maintain the reforms are both constitutional and vital. So far, it seems, the Constitutional Court agrees. The Court has divided complaints over the centre-right’s comprehensive public finance reforms into three parts. In January it ruled that the overall changes, including tax reform, are constitutional. The healthcare reforms discussed on Wednesday are the second part. It still has to examine changes to the social benefit system.