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Doctor moratorium extended

Parliament has decided to extend a moratorium on new doctors' practices in a bid to reduce health costs.

The moratorium, first implemented in 2002 for a three-year period, will now remain in effect until at least the end of next year.

A bilateral agreement with the European Union allows for the free movement of people, so the measure was deemed necessary to prevent a flood of doctors from EU states setting up practices in Switzerland.

According to Swiss law, health insurance companies must pay for services rendered by all doctors practising in Switzerland.

Thus a majority of parliamentarians agreed in 2002 that an increase of foreign doctors setting up shop here would lead to higher costs. Switzerland’s health care system is already among the most expensive in the world.

On Thursday, the Senate followed the House of Representatives in approving the 18-month extension, in hopes that a revision of the law can be passed before the end of the period.

Parliamentarians rejected a second proposal to extend the moratorium until the end of 2010. Proponents of this date failed to convince the lawmakers that a change to the law could not be approved and implemented by 2009.

The measure is also controversial because it is seen as discouraging Swiss students from entering the medical profession.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR