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Protesting Greek Pensioners Occupy Health Ministry

Several dozen pensioners pushed past police and stormed into the Health Ministry in Athens on Sept. 4 to protest the government’s failure to pay doctors and pharmacists for overdue state insurance bills, which has resulted in the elderly being forced to pay cash up-front for doctor’s visits and medicine.
There were scuffles between the police and the pensioners who demanded to meet with Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, who refused to see them. The group occupied the lobby for about 20 minutes. They were part of a group of about 200 who participated in a Communist-led rally.
Under its leader, Aleka Papariga, the Communist party has seen its share of the vote cut in half in the last three years and she is vehemently against the austerity measures that have cut pay, raised taxes and slashed pensions, and now has resulted in Greeks having to pay for doctors and pharmacists, although they pay for health insurance through their salaries and taxes.
The protesters were also upset that the uneasy coalition government of New Democracy Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the PASOK Socialists and Democratic Left is planning to make another $14.16 billion in cuts, including a fourth round of reduced pension benefits.
Pharmacists and doctors are also protesting overdue payment from the EOPYY national health service for services rendered, including refusing to accept state insurance for drugs or visits to physicians. Doctors have also launched a work slowdown, cutting back on the hours they are available and accepting cash only.

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