The recent increases in prepaid medicine fees enabled by Javier Milei’s DNU 70/2023 have led to a surge in precautionary measures being granted by courts to bring an end to these hikes. The cases being resolved individually have specific characteristics, such as requests from retirees or relatives of patients with disabilities, and are aimed at suing specific companies. The looming question is whether there will be a ruling with general effects that suspends drastic increases for all members of all health providers.
Last week, the Registry of Collective Processes of the Supreme Court indicated that an amparo, directed against the State and requesting the unconstitutionality of the articles of the decree that freed the prices of medical services private, will process together with a file against the Italian Charity Society. This decision of the Forns court, specifically against the Italian Hospital, suspended the increases for a 78-year-old woman, Marta Cristina Brauchli, who argued that the hikes made it impossible for her to pay the fees, which represent approximately half of her retirement assets.
The judge invoked international rights recognized in laws to support the suspension of the increase for this specific woman, as well as in other cases with similar characteristics. Further cases against other prepaid companies are also in line to be registered as collective actions, indicating a potential collective effect if the judge rules on the merits. The judge’s decision on whether she takes the case and eventually joins it will determine the possibility of issuing a precautionary measure with a general criterion.
In addition to judicial interventions, the province of Buenos Aires has issued a “preventive measure” for a prepaid medical company to annul January and February increases, which it considered abusive for certain affiliates, and demanded that the increase should align with the Ripte index. The Provincial Directorate for the Defense of the Rights of Consumers and Users handles such complaints, with instances for conciliation and potential court action if the firm fails to comply.
Overall, there is a growing trend against the drastic increases in prepaid medicine fees, calling into question the constitutionality of the articles involved in the DNU and seeking a collective solution to protect the rights of users and consumers.