Discrimination

Friday, 30 July 2010

A Step Forward in Roma National Minority Exercising Right to Health Care

Amendments of the Rules of Procedure for Exercising Right from Obligatory Health Insurance, which were adopted by the Republic Institute for Health Insurance on 9th July 2010, brought changes which significantly facilitate access to health care by the persons of Roma ethnicity. Article 7, Paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure was changed, on the grounds of which the Roma will from now on be able to obtain health booklet even if they do not have temporary residence registered.

What preceded the change of the Article 7, Paragraph 11 was the Praxis Initiative for Legislative Review of the aforementioned Article before the Constitutional Court of Serbia. The Initiative pointed to the fact that the disputable article was contrary to a provision of the Law on Health Insurance, whose aim was to enable issuance of health booklets to the Roma who, due to their traditional way of life, do not have permanent/temporary residence. During the validity of the previous (not amended) Article 7, Paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure, they could not obtain health booklet since, contrary to the Law, the Rules of Procedure obliged them to register temporary residence. Thus, an entire group of population, which is one of the most socially vulnerable groups in Serbia, was denied access to health care.

A few months after launching the Initiative, through communication with the Directorate for Health Insurance and Legal Affairs of the Republic Institute for Health Insurance, Praxis found out that this body had received a directive from the Constitutional Court requesting opinion on the launched Initiative, and that the amendments should be adopted which would harmonize the Rules of Procedure with the Law. Such solution was adopted through amendments of the Rules of Procedure in July 2010. Illegal condition related to registration of temporary residence for the Roma who, due their traditional way of life, do not have permanent or temporary residence was abolished.

The outcome of Praxis Initiative and adopted amendment of the disputable Article of the Rules of procedure is simplified exercise of right to health care by all persons of Roma ethnicity who cannot provide evidence on their place of residence. Instead of the certificate on temporary residence which had been requested earlier and which they could not obtain, in the future, they will prove their address of residence through a personal statement, which is a significant improvement in exercising right to health care by the Roma.

There are thousands of Roma in Serbia without permanent place of residence, who are constantly looking for opportunities for earning to provide for survival. Even in case they stay in one place, finding accommodation in illegal settlements, they still do not have the possibility to register permanent or temporary residence. Thanks to Praxis initiative, Roma without permanent address are finally given the possibility to obtain health booklet.

Eve though the procedure related to Praxis Initiative before the Constitutional Court has not been formally completed yet and Praxis, as the party which launched the Initiative, was not informed by the Court about the amendments of the Rules of Procedure, the amendments came into force on 17 July 2010. In spite of that, it has been noticed that the news about change of conditions for exercising right to health care by persons of Roma ethnicity has only recently started reaching branches of the Republic Institute for Health Insurance. Some branches refuse to apply the amended Article 7, Paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure. However, Praxis experience confirms that some branches have started applying the amended Rules of Procedure and issuing health booklets to the Roma on the basis of personal statement on place of residence. Thus, a client of Praxis of Roma ethnicity obtained a health booklet for the first time after ten years of exclusion from the health insurance system.

 

Download (Serbian only): Initiative for Legislative Review of the Article 6, Paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure for Exercising right from obligatory health insurance

Read 7322 times
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action