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Doctors hit the streets over lab fee plan

General practitioners across the country on Wednesday went on a one-day strike to fight a plan to lower laboratory tariffs.

This content was published on April 1, 2009 - 15:49

In the capital, Bern, around 1,500 doctors and medical professionals gathered to deliver a protest letter to Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin, who also holds the health portfolio. In Basel, around 600 people demonstrated.

Other marches and demonstrations also unfolded across the country as the day progressed.

The Swiss General Medicine Society had called for the strike, which followed one held on March 24 in western Switzerland that attracted 4,000 protestors.

At issue was a plan by federal authorities to lower healthcare costs by SFr200 million ($177 million) per year through a laboratory tariff scheme to start on July 1.

Doctors say the new tariffs will cause general practitioners to lose money and give up on their own laboratory testing. They argue this will lead to a weaker healthcare system.

Couchepin has remained steadfast in his support for the plan. That has strained relations between the minister and doctors who complain of an increasingly authoritative attitude from his ministry.

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