While the Chamber of Commerce, for example, sees the abolition of the measures as positive, the trade union federation is doing it too quickly. The fact that free tests should only be possible if test persons agree to taking remedies against Corona caused disapproval from the Medical Association and the umbrella organization of Austrian social insurance.
Lots of private statements
More than 1,000 comments had already been received on Wednesday afternoon, most of them from private individuals. The law is intended to ensure that corona vaccinations remain free of charge and free tests are only possible to clarify whether patients with symptoms need Covid medication. The special legal status compared to other non-notifiable communicable respiratory diseases falls.
Free test only if you are ready for therapy
The stipulation that testing is only possible at the expense of the health insurance provider if the people tested are willing to take Covid remedies in the event of a positive result met with broad rejection (including from the Medical Association, the Federation of Trade Unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella organization of Austrian social insurance). The prescription of a therapeutic measure does not depend solely on the test result, according to the Medical Association, which is calling for the wording to be deleted. Whether insured persons allow themselves treatment or not is entirely at their discretion, as does the Austrian Society for Quality Assurance and Standardization of Medical Diagnostic Examinations (ÖQUASTA) and the Austrian Society for Good Analysis and Laboratory Practice (GALP).
Debate about tests in pharmacies
According to the Chamber of Pharmacists, the test offer in pharmacies is “one of the main pillars of the fight against the pandemic”, which supports the extension of the authorization of pharmacists to carry out and evaluate tests on their own responsibility. However, a limited legal test authorization for pharmacists limited to the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 is not sufficient. With a clarification in the Pharmacy Act, the Chamber would like the opportunity for pharmacists to carry out and evaluate simple health tests on their own responsibility. The Austrian Health and Nursing Association (ÖGKV) is also calling for the ability to carry out antigen tests without a doctor’s order to be included again in the Epidemic Act in order to make access easier for sick people.
The Medical Association sees it differently. The performance of simple health tests is not in the field of activity of pharmacists. The clarification of symptoms and the prevention of diseases is reserved for doctors. Like the umbrella organization of Austrian social insurance, the Medical Association also criticized the exclusion of elective doctors from Covid vaccinations. These would make a significant contribution to supplying the population with vaccinations.
RH wants overhaul of Epidemics Act
Meanwhile, the Court of Auditors is working for an immediate revision of the Epidemic Act. He referred to his earlier recommendations to modernize the law. The new draft adjusts individual provisions of the applicable law, but does not take into account the recommendations of the RH. The Court of Auditors gives a positive assessment of the plans to limit the range of tests “due to cost-benefit considerations” and to focus on early detection and monitoring programs. However, the financial effects are not plausible for the RH.
The Austrian Association of Cities welcomes the abolition of regulations that are no longer necessary, but sees the abolition of free tests “in some cases as a noticeable financial burden for socially weaker sections of the population”. He insists on financial support for the communities from the federal government for vaccinations and tests.
The Chamber of Commerce welcomes the lifting of the special status of Covid as a notifiable disease. The developments have shown that the special regulations are no longer necessary, apart from detailed provisions. Special vaccination offers outside the established area and a responsibility of the federal states for the processing of the vaccination are not necessary. In the event of an ordinance on traffic restrictions, a claim for compensation for companies should be provided for in the Epidemic Act, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
Constitutional Service calls for clarifications
For the trade union federation, however, the abolition of the measures is taking place too quickly. He observes a departure from preventive measures while the pandemic has not yet been declared over. On the other hand, he welcomes the goal of ensuring funding for the vaccination infrastructure. The fact that in future a PCR test should only be carried out after every fifth positive antigen test is not sufficient for the trade union federation. In the private sector, on the other hand, he wants free PCR tests to continue.
The constitutional service of the Federal Chancellery called for numerous clarifications and criticized the planned “collection of health data on certain clinical pictures for epidemiological purposes”. This is an encroachment on the fundamental right to data protection, which requires a legal basis. The Data Protection Council advocated clarifying which previously collected personal data may continue to be stored even after numerous Covid regulations have expired.