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Knee Trade Agreement: Leak Reveals TISA Could Result in Offshoring of Health Care Services, Procedures


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A new leaked document sheds light on the secretive free trade deal, Trade In Services Agreement (TISA), and shows how it could affect the future of health care.  “A concept paper on health care services within TISA negotiations” was discussed by European Union states at last September’s TISA negotiations in Geneva and was eventually leaked by the Associated Whistle-Blowing Press.  It reveals that the proposed deal supports both privatization of health care systems and the offshoring of health care services, meaning that patients could be sent to different countries for different procedures.  

The proposal argues that,

there is “huge untapped potential for the globalisation of healthcare services” mainly because “health care services is (sic) funded and provided by state or welfare organisations and is of virtually no interest for foreign competitors due to lack of market-orientated scope for activity”.

Dr. Odile Frank, who analyzed the report for Public Services International, argued that, “The proposal would raise health care costs in developing countries and lower quality in developed countries in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere.”

Fears within the health care community are real. Increasing national health system burden could result in the introduction of individual account or voucher systems that would leave patients uncertain about the costs of follow up care when they return home.  According to PSI General Secretary, Rosa Pavanelli:

“It is scandalous that proposals to dismantle the public health system are being discussed behind closed doors and the public must rely on leaks to find out what their governments are discussing on their behalf.

Health is a human right and is not for sale or for trade. The health system exists to keep our families safe and healthy, not to ensure the profits of large corporations.”

TISA is being negotiated between 23 countries (counting the EU as one), and seeks to extend the scope and rules of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  If passed, TISA could deregulate up to 70 percent of world trade services.


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