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Government Blocks Initiative of Provision of Compulsory Medical Insurance for Students Initiated by Trade Unions

26.01.2012

Mariam Khurtsidze, Aleko Tskitishvili

Georgian Trade Unions made a legislative proposal to provide medical insurance for students of higher education. The draft law envisages free medical insurance for students of all three phases of higher education. Government and governing party National Movement blocks proposal.

According to the draft law, higher education institutions will pay the medical insurance fee by the education fee paid by the students.

Trade Unions state that the state and higher education institutions have all range of obligations, including the obligation of the higher education institutions to improve students’ social conditions. The state obligations are drawn out in the Law on Higher Education the article 43 of which states that the student has right “to receive stipend, financial or material assistance or other privileges from the state, higher education department or other sources.” (See paragraph i)

“Despite the abovementioned articles, students in Georgia have no social privileges, neither from the state nor from the higher education institutions except for the lower transportation tariff (0.2 GEL) in the regulated economic spheres/metro stations, M3 category buses/which applies only for the students studying in the higher and professional education institutions with license and accreditation existing inside the administrative borders of the capital” – the explanation note of the draft law states.

According to the official data of Statistics Department of Georgia, there are approximately 103 000 students in Georgia and the average price of their education is 2250 GEL. No tetra is used for social protection of students.

According to Law on Higher Education of Georgia, student has a right to receive quality education. This is one of the main priorities of the state politics. Trade Unions consider that this right cannot be ensured if the student does not have access on health protection. This can be guaranteed only by free medical insurance.

While talking with humanrights.ge the head of youth organization of Trade Unions Lasha Bliadze pays attention to the fact that there already are categories of citizens in Georgia who have medical insurance through different state programs: people beyond poverty line, teachers, bailiffs, state officials, prosecutors and etc. Students belong to a relatively lower risk group in terms of health problems. Besides, considering their number, insurance of students will not require significant financial expenses and in fact, through the insurance package of rather low cost it will be possible to receive high quality medical service.

According to the draft law, special health insurance package will be created the annual insurance rate of which will be determined by the market principles. “Cost of insurance bonus should definitely be included in the education fee – in the money which is paid by student or state (in case of financing or co-financing)” – the explanation note of the draft law states.

Thus, the draft law envisages amendment to the paragraph C of part 3 of article 3 of the Law on Higher Education and its formulation in the following way: “Higher education institution is obliged to assist to improve the social conditions of students and ensure the compulsory medical insurance for students through the education fee paid in the budget of higher education department.”

Students like the initiative of the Trade Unions very much and want to adopt these amendments soon.

“It is very good initiative. It would be better if it is adopted soon. Students will be given chance to get blood tests for free or receive doctor’s consultations. There are many students who are not from Tbilisi and have left their families. It is good that insurance money will be paid from the education fee since the parents are paying such high education fee.” – Student Tamta Gulbani stated to humanrights.ge.
It is another issue whether or not the rectors and owners of universities will like this idea. Whether or not the education fee will be increased after the law is adopted is unknown as well. However, it should be noted that the education fee starts from 2250 GEL and passed 7000 GEL. Trade Unions think that approximately 80 GEL should be used annually for insurance of students out of this money which will not be harmful for the budget of higher educations.

Trade Unions registered this and one more legislative initiative in the Parliament. 30 000 signatures of citizens were also collected. Another legislative initiative envisages changes and amendments in the Law on State Compensation and Stipend. By another initiative Trade Unions try to issue compensation for the people occupied in the hard, harmful and dangerous conditions.

According to Lasha Bliadze, the existing legislation envisages to certify the collected signatures by City Council of any city. Otherwise, the Parliament will not hear it: “Tbilisi City Council refused to certify signatures. We are going to submit complaint against refusal in the court.”

Government Applies Old Methods

Before the court hearings the Trade Unions try to inform the public. At the press conference heard on January 20th the head of the Trade Unions Irakli Petriashvili stated: “Georgian Trade Unions ensured the collection of more than 30 000 signatures needed in order to present the draft law to the Parliament according to legislation. It hoped that the bodies of local government and government bodies would perform their authority and certify the signatures of people responsible for the collection of signatures. However, City Councils of Tbilisi, Zestaponi, Tkibuli and Rustavi refused to certify the signatures and created artificial barrier for voters to apply their constitutional right to present legislative initiative to the Parliament.”

According to Irakli Petriashvili, representatives of local government requested the signatures to be certified by the notary: “We have addressed the Parliament with the legislative proposal before and they have not asked for notary certification. If it is necessary to certify the signatures, it must be conducted by attorneys or notaries. But the certification of this many signatures requires 24 000 GEL.”

According to interpressnews, Irakli Petriashvili will address the President of Georgia with official letter and request to ensure the legislative environment where citizens of Georgia will be able to apply their constitutional rights.

As the head of Trade Unions noted they might transfer the legislative proposal to some Member of Parliament along with the collected signatures since the signatures presented by the MP does not require notary certification.
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