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Lawmakers to vote on doctor salaries on Tuesday

February 5, 2013

Starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Costa Rican lawmakers will discuss a draft bill to determine whether it is fair that physicians receive a salary increase every time an adjustment in wages is approved for other workers.

The bill is at the top of the Legislative Assembly agenda and is expected to be voted on in a first round of debate Tuesday night.

The current law states that doctor bonuses and incentives for overtime, availability and night shifts are taken into account within a regular salary, but lawmakers believe this is “a misinterpretation of the law.”

The Social Security System, or Caja, currently must resolve some 2,000 lawsuits filed by doctors for payment of these incentives. The Caja already has lost more than 300 of the lawsuits, costing the state-run health care system ₡3.5 billion ($7 million).

The law, created in 1982, has caused much controversy because Caja officials said the wage system could take the institution into bankruptcy.

It is estimated that the remaining cases could mean payments of some ₡174 billion ($348 million) to other doctors.

A ruling today by lawmakers would not end lawsuits already in process.

On Monday, the National Association of Public and Private Employees (ANEP) announced that they will protest in coming days to force lawmakers to vote on changes that would “keep all other workers from getting fair wage increases.”

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