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Kuwait MPs warn new health minister after suggestion expat fees could be scrapped

Kuwait MPs warn new health minister after suggestion expat fees could be scrapped

The new fee structure saw prices introduced for many treatments that were free

Kuwait’s new health minister has quickly drawn the ire of MPs after saying he would review a healthcare fee increase for expats.

The new fee structure, introduced in October, saw prices introduced for many treatments that were free for those with health insurance. For others the price doubled or tripled, drawing criticism from some doctors.

Read: Kuwait’s hospitals see 30% fewer foreign patients after fee increase

Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah said in his first press statement after being appointed under the country’s new government last week that he would study the healthcare fees indicating: “they could be scrapped or could continue”, according to Kuwait Times.

He added that all previous ministerial decrees would be revised and reevaluated and the ministry would also look into other ventures to improve the quality of healthcare in the country, where authorities are moving ahead with a plan to treat foreigners and Kuwaiti citizens in separate facilities.

Read: Kuwait to more than double annual health insurance fee for foreigners

MPs were quick to criticise the minister’s remarks amid a wider political debate on the need to reduce the country’s foreign population, estimated to account for 70 per cent of the 4.4 million people in the country.

Several members of parliament have announced proposals this year to this effect including quotas on some nationalities, a maximum stay limit, exit visas, driving bans and other measures.

Read: Kuwait to crackdown on residency violators

The previous government, which resigned at the end of October, had also moved to limit the recruitment of marginal labourers.

Read: Kuwait’s government resigns

In Twitter comments, MP Safa Al-Hashem warned: Listen to me carefully your excellency the new health minister: If the health of our Kuwaiti people does not bother you, we are a lot about their health and comfort.

“Any decision to scrap the health charges on expatriates if rejected… rejected. I will confront it with violent political tools and question you,” she added in an apparent threat to grill the minister.

MP Saleh Ashour and other members of the National Assembly issued a similar threat, encouraging the minister to continue the reforms of his

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