While the immigration bill will be examined from November 6 in the Senate, 3,000 caregivers publish an article in Le Monde calling for the maintenance of State Medical Aid. What is it about ? What are the issues ?
No less than 3,000 caregivers call on “the government and our elected officials to abandon any project affecting or restricting (the) scope” of State Medical Aid (AME). Among the signatories, we note the presence of Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, and Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the National Consultative Ethics Committee.
State medical aid: what are we talking about?
State medical aid (AME) allows foreigners in an irregular situation to benefit from access to care. To benefit from it, you must reside in Europe for more than three months, not have had a residence permit for more than three months and receive resources not exceeding certain ceilings. Once awarded, this assistance is granted for one year, renewable on request each year. This aid granted to immigrants is currently being discussed while a text of law on immigration must be presented by the summer. According to the national study carried out by the Institute for Research and Documentation in Health Economics at the end of 2019, one in two eligible people uses it.
But the immigration bill plans to replace the AME with more restrictive emergency medical aid.
Ministry of the Interior versus Public Health?
Last May, former Minister of Health François Braun had already expressed his disagreement with this project. According to him, reducing this aid to emergency medical aid is not possible because the AME presents challenges “extremely strong which are public health issues”. The minister illustrated his point with telling examples: “What does emergency mean, how long does it mean? Are we going to treat diabetes that is unbalanced and then allow it to become unbalanced?“. And added: “If there is a new Covid that arrives in people who could benefit from state medical aid, we are not going to treat them (…) and we are going to let the disease develop? We need a global vision of public health“. To respond to criticism concerning the cost of the system, François Braun recalled that the AME represented “0.5%, even a little less, of the entire Social Security budget”.
Fight against exclusions and preserve public health
These arguments are partly taken up by the signatories of the Le Monde tribune who recall that it is a question of “a tool to combat exclusions which is only accessible to people whose resources are less than 810 euros per month and who demonstrate stable residence in Europe“.
They also emphasize public health issues and emphasize that in Spain, the implementation of the same policy in 2012 had resulted in “an increase in the incidence of infectious diseases as well as excess mortality“. It was finally repealed in 2018.