The Bolivian government is “open to analysing any proposal” for a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Argentina, the Andean nation’s ambassador in Buenos Aires said Tuesday.
“It’s not true that (Bolivia president) Evo Morales has rejected the reciprocity agreement. The government is open to analysing any proposals”, Ambassador Santos Véliz told Radio con vos.
Véliz said no formal agreement from Argentina had so far reached La Paz.
In Argentina, debate is already underway about a bill that would regulate the provision and cost of public health and education services for foreigners.
Lawmaker Luis Petri confirmed via Twitter that the government’s coalition has already presented a bill to Congress.
“I’ve just presented a reciprocity bill regarding education and health for foreigners. If this is unsuccessful, (there will be a bill for) the establishment of compensation or fees to cover the costs of services”, he said.
Argentina’s Constitution establishes universal health and education for all people regardless of their nationality. Any plans to override the Constitution is likely to be met with fierce resistance in Congress and on the streets.
“The objective is to guarantee the equal access (to services) of all foreigners who live in Argentina permanently so they can plan their lives here, and to establish a system for those non-permanent foreigners in order to cover costs”, Petri added, in a separate Tweet.
Several voices from within the national government have expressed support for the proposed changes, including Health Minister Adolfo Rubinstein.
But the plan could also enjoy cross-party support.
At a press conference in Jujuy province on Tuesday, Cabinet Chief Marco Peña said: “Argentina has long wanted reciprocity; in the City of Buenos Aires this debate has been going for some time now”.
He was flanked by the Peronist governor of Salta Juan Manuel Urtubey and the government’s UCR Radicaly Party ally, the governor of Jujuy Gerardo Morales.
Both provinces will seek to pass their own legislation as the national government looks at a federal plan, the governors confirmed.
“There are few places in the world that don’t charge”, Peña added. “There are reasons why”.