Cutting funds for hospitals, premeditated murder. How Minister Rafila lies about the…

Cutting funds for hospitals, premeditated murder. How Minister Rafila lies about the money from the European Recovery and Resilience Facility

Romania’s health system, one of the worst in the EU, loses almost €700 million in free money from the EU through the National Recovery & Resilience Plan (NRRP). As a matter of fact, the government itself has sent a list of the projects it has dropped, including 6 hospitals cut from funding because of the „high risk” of non-implementation. It’s a drama, it’s condemning thousands of patients to the torment of walking to other hospitals. Instead of fighting for the hospitals under his command, Minister Alexandru Rafila defended himself with a barrage of lies.

  • The Ministry of Health has not lost any money, it has done its job, it has unblocked all the projects that you have blocked, it has managed to complete all the provisions related to investments in Health, and the reduction is not from the Ministry of Health, but from the European Commission (…) These hospitals (whose funding has been cut from the NRRP – editor’s note) will continue to be built, but not with money from the NRRP, but with money from the European Investment Bank,” Rafila said on Saturday in Poiana Brasov.

The PSD Minister of Health, one of the most ineffective ministers Romania has ever had, referred to the information presented exclusively by Economedia and G4Media: Six new hospitals or departments were cut by the government from the NRRP – Infectious Diseases Hospital Brasov, Gerota Hospital in Bucharest, Oncology Department in Alba Iulia, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital Buftea, New Department of Mother and Child Health at the Emergency Clinical County Hospital Sf. Apostol Andrei Constanta and the construction of the departments of obstetrics and gynecology, neonatology, surgery, pediatrics and pediatrics Arad.

In a few sentences, Minister Rafila has crammed several lies and half-truths in order to save his political cheek. The reality is that Health took the biggest hit after the government had to drop €2.1 billion worth of projects from the NRRP. Lacking political support in the PSD, known as a manager unable to fight for his own projects, Rafila made Health the ashes of the NRRP.

The causes of the disaster counted in Rafila’s favor matter little to citizens. But the effects are catastrophic. In a country where mothers die in hospitals (Botoșani case), give birth on sidewalks (Urziceni) or are left with the bicycle brake sewn into the surgeon’s leg (Urlați), investments in hospitals are critical. It is simply a matter of life and death.

I have asked many Romanians why they prefer to stay abroad when salaries in Romania have risen more than 10-20 years ago. Most of them told me that school and hospital at home are the main reasons why they choose to stay abroad. Education and health in Romania are considered real disasters. And under these conditions, how can a minister afford to give up free money for six hospitals and stay in office?

Here is the debunking of the lies Rafila told in his defense:

1. Rafila said it was the EU that asked for the money to be cut. „The cut is not from the Ministry of Health, but from the European Commission,” Rafila said at Poiana Brasov. That’s false. The European Commission asked Romania to cut €2.1 billion from the €14.24 billion grant component of the NRRP for a very simple reason: Romania had better macroeconomic results in 2020 and 2021 than the preliminary ones, so – according to the NRRP regulation – it has to return part of the initial allocation.

Where is Rafila’s untruth? The European Commission has not said at any point that money should be cut from hospitals or health in general. It was the Romanian government’s decision where to cut from: transport, infrastructure, digitization, afforestation, photovoltaics, museums or schools. So Rafila was supposed to fight for the hospitals under him, to plead the cause of health, to stick to his field. He didn’t fight hard enough, so it was health that took the biggest hit. Catastrophic for a country where health is the main concern for citizens.

2. Rafila said the hospitals will still be built with money from the EIB. „These hospitals will continue to be built, but not with money from the PNRR, but with money from the European Investment Bank (EIB),” he said. Why is this false? Because the money from NRRP was free, and non-refundable, while the EIB gives loans. In other words, it no longer makes hospitals for free, but with borrowed money, while Romania already has a major problem with its budget deficit and the loans to cover it.

3. Rafila hinted that once the issue of EIB loans is resolved, hospitals will be built as in the NRRP. This is false, because the PNRR had a clear time constraint: investments must be completed by 2026. It’s a deadline that keeps governments on their toes and puts pressure on them to deliver on time. Well, taking the six hospitals out of the PNRR virtually guarantees that they won’t be ready until 2026. Especially as there is currently no project approved by the EIB, and approval, start-up and execution is taking an enormous amount of time.

4. Rafila claimed that „the Ministry of Health has not lost any money, it has done its job, it has unblocked all the projects that you have blocked, it has managed to complete all the provisions related to investments in Healthcare”. That’s a lie, because it is precisely the Ministry of Health that has delayed the NPRP projects, as G4Media has written on numerous occasions. It’s about the finalization of the list of hospitals eligible for funding from the PNRR, delayed for a year by Rafila.

5. And Rafila is also the one who ignored the World Bank’s 2022 report, which warned that there was „a critical risk” that Romania would lose three major PNRR projects due to delays. These are the Cluj metro, the 27 new hospitals and hospital wards, and the afforestation campaign. Even in the face of that official report, Rafila did not speed up the preparation of the projects so that the six hospitals would also be ready by the deadline.

Cutting the money from the PNRR should be the end of Rafila’s political career. This is the second big proof of laziness, inability to work or double agenda, after he delayed for months the national cancer plan, another project on which the lives of thousands of Romanians literally depend.

On top of that, the Liberals have already started to informally complain that the six cut projects are from PNL-led administrations and are said to be projects already at a certain stage, while other projects with little chance of being completed, such as Piatra Neamt, have remained in the PNRR. If this is true, Rafila is only continuing the politically motivated squabbling, see the case of the Sibiu County Hospital and the Bacău municipal hospital.

Rafila is already in disgrace in the party – proof of this is that the head of the party and government Marcel Ciolacu showed him the yellow card in July in the middle of the national cancer plan scandal. If two years ago, at the beginning of his mandate, Rafila was the PSD-ist with the best public image, he has collapsed in the rankings under the weight of his own incompetence. The weekly health scandals, the shirking of responsibility, the lack of manliness at critical moments – all have painted the picture of a weak and inadequate politician.

It wouldn’t be out of the question that Rafila’s failure in the PNRR case could also be the result of a conflict in the PSD, where Ciolacu would be happy to cut the momentum of the man he considered his internal rival for a long time.

For what he has now done with the PNRR money, it’s time for Rafila to pay politically. Resignation or reshuffle is mandatory. In his wake he leaves nothing but a sea of cleverly packaged words, which have earned him the reputation of a great communicator, raised, however, on zero achievements, and from today on a loss of 700 million euros. The great reformer proposed by the PSD is proving to be a first-rate impostor.

PS: The very government that cut 700 million euros for hospitals is preparing a new blow to healthcare. The draft GEO amending the tax code contains two provisions that cancel the current sponsorship mechanisms, including the association Give Life, which is building a children’s hospital with private donations.


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