“The absence of dialogue with taxi artisans and support measures reflects technocratic and centralized management”

2023-12-17 09:00:04

Uhe provision of the 2024 social finance law aims to reduce the cost of healthcare transport by taxi, by lowering the price when shared patient transport is possible, via a specific reservation platform. On December 11, a national taxi strike protesting against this provision caused significant disruption to the lives of our citizens in the country’s major cities.

The imperative to limit the Social Security deficit to 10 billion euros in 2024 is not debatable. Transporting several patients to the hospital in a taxi is a source of savings. Free ambulance services, light medical vehicles and taxis for patients cost Social Security 5 billion euros per year.

Certainly, this free service allows savings, because a patient can refuse to come to the hospital if a taxi costs 120 euros for a round trip: as a result, their disability risks being longer and therefore costing more to Security social. A free taxi avoids keeping a patient in hospital for chronic treatment.

Read also: Taxi drivers march against carpooling of medical patients

But the search for economy is essential. If two patients take the same taxi, the cost goes down. Shared healthcare transport represents 30% of patient trips in Guyana, where the vehicle fleet is poorly developed, but only 15% on the national average. Shared health transport exists in Spain, where specific minibuses are used.

Discrepancies that should have alerted

An information report from the National Assembly of February 2022 on medical transport proposed a complete reform to improve its efficiency and reduce its cost. The price of a health taxi is at least 50 euros. The report revealed large differences in annual cost per capita depending on the region. Thus, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is the second region, with 72 euros. Reunion is in the lead, with 101 euros, the Pays de la Loire region is in the low average, with 40 euros. The scale of the discrepancies should have alerted us to the risk of rejecting a provision applicable uniformly in the country.

Due to a lack of reform ambition, of the sixteen proposals from deputies, the Ministry of Health only retained one, the reduction in prices and the obligatory use of a reservation platform. But it was illusory to hope to impose a reduction in income on taxis without prior consultation and without support measures.

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On the afternoon of December 11, in the middle of a taxi strike, the Ministry of Health announced that it was giving up imposing a platform and offered to meet with professionals. Such is the art of reform in France! The absence of dialogue with taxi artisans and support measures reflects technocratic and centralized management.

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