Palma/Madrid.—Immigrants in Spain who don't have residents' permits will be able to sign an agreement through which they will be able to receive medical care. The agreement will provide funding for healthcare they need in sums of between 710.40 and 1'864.80 euros a year depending on whether the person concerned is over or younger than 65 years of age, but there will be no subsidies for medicines.

The news was given yesterday by the regional Health Minister of Castilla-La Mancha, José Ignacio Echániz at the end of an inter-regional conference on health facilities at which the issue of health care for illegal immigrants had been top of the agenda.

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But this ruling on health care provision does not just apply to those who are living in Spain without the necessary permits and who had their public health care cards taken away from them at the beginning of September this year.

It also applies to Spaniards who have never worked and who have income of more than 100'000 euros a year and to Europeans who voluntarily come to Spain for health treatment.

Before the inter-regional health care conference began, Health Board General Secretary Pilar Farjas said that the move would put an end to the so-called “health tourism.” Meanwhile, Social Policy Secretary of the Spanish National Workers Party (PSOE), Trinidad Jimenez, said yesterday that the agreement being proposed by Central Government to put a cap on public health spending for illegal immigrants “won't work.” Jimenez claimed that such a move would prove more expensive than the cost of many private insurances.

Speaking after the inter-regional health care conference where the basic tenets of the new health care policy were hammered out, Jimenez said -referring specifically to illegal immigrants - that a financial burden is going to be put on one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

The Balearic Minister for Health and Social Welfare Antoni Mesquida was one of the regional representatives at the Health Board meeting in Madrid. He said that many “technical” details had been discussed and that the creation of a network of Health Technology Agencies had been approved which would ensure the permanent provision of agreed services, and a central purchasing service.