Next Wednesday, November 22nd, an important and highly anticipated meeting between the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, and the leader of the conservative Democratic Center party and former president, Alvaro Uribe, will take place. This was confirmed by the Minister of Interior, Luis Fernando Velasco, from Cartagena.
The purpose of this meeting is to reach agreements for the final approval of the Health reform being pursued by the government in the House of Representatives. The law has only been approved in 50% of its content, leaving pending aspects that separate the government parties from the opposition, such as the future role of health insurance companies that are currently pivotal in the system.
For now, negotiations on the fundamental part of the law are progressing very slowly due to significant differences between the two political blocs. Additionally, parliamentary discussions have had a bitter tone, often leading to disqualification and personal offenses among congress members.
The meeting was initiated by President Petro and will be held at the Presidential Palace, in the Casa de Nariño.
Andrés Forero will accompany former President Uribe
Congressman Andres Forero from the Democratic Center party will accompany the former president and leader of the conservative party to the meeting with Petro. Forero has been one of the staunchest opponents of the reform proposed by the government.
“We are going to listen. I understand that the former president will be accompanied by Dr. Forero, who has been a formidable opponent of the health reform within the framework of democracy, because he does it from the Congress, and that should be respected,” the Minister of Interior stated.
During the meeting, both President Petro and former President Uribe will be accompanied by health sector experts who support the arguments of the two opposing poles defended in parliamentary discussions.
“We are going to talk (…) to find common ground and clearly define differences. We want to have a democratic, political debate rather than acts of sabotage, actions defending ideas,” Velasco clarified to the media.
The search for necessary consensus
It is worth noting that there are currently huge differences between the two health models defended by Petro and Uribe. The current president aims to reshape the current model by giving prominence to the public sector, eliminating health insurance companies that currently act as intermediaries between the funds provided by the State and their final destination.
On the other hand, former President Uribe, who defended the project of the current model 30 years ago as a congressman, advocates maintaining the predominance of the private sector, respecting the current role of these companies.
Given this scenario, consensus is expected to be complicated. It will be necessary for both sides to relinquish part of their proposals to achieve the necessary agreement to provide the country with a model that not only functions but can endure for a long time in Colombia. This was defended by Minister Velasco.
“It means that both the President, who is a leader of the country, and the former president who has a leadership role in this society, know that their responsibilities include communicating, even within their differences. We are going to talk precisely about the health reform; more than an exercise of bloody fights in Congress, we want to have a democratic, political debate rather than acts of sabotage or defense of ideas. We have made a proposal, and there are several criticisms of the proposal,” stated the Minister of Interior.
Therefore, as this meeting is awaited, parliamentary discussions on the Health reform have been suspended, awaiting the outcome of a consensus that will allow the continuation of the processing of one of the government’s flagship reforms.