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Swiss medics face ban on new practices

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Photo: AFP
13:38 CET+01:00
The lower house of the Swiss parliament has voted in favour of reintroducing a three-year limit on the number of licences issued to specialist doctors.

Some cantons had complained about a flood of doctors seeking to set up shop, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

Cantons in border areas are particularly affected as a result of the free movement of persons accord with the European Union.

Restrictions on permits for specialists were lifted at the end of 2011.

The National Council on Wednesday voted by 103 to 76 with five abstentions in favour of reimposing an upper limit.

It applies only to specialists and not to general practitioners who are in short supply.

Supporters of a moratorium say that additional practices are pushing up health insurance costs by 500,000 francs a year.

Ruth Humbel of the Christian Democrats said that while the restrictions were in place the number of doctors claiming against basic insurance rose by around 1.9 percent every year.

In 2012 after the restrictions were lifted, 8.6 percent more doctors submitted their bills to the health insurers.

Health Minister Alain Berset said cantons with a surplus of specialists should be able to take action. No canton had to reintroduce restrictions, however.

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The government wants to bring in the limit from the beginning of April, and it is being rushed through parliament.

The smaller chamber, the Council of States, will consider the matter next Tuesday.

The restrictions, if implemented, would be in place until 2016.

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