IESS and SOLCA reach debt payment agreement, say treatments for cancer patients will continue
The Ecuador Social Security Institute (IESS) and the Society for the Fight Against Cancer in Ecuador (SOLCA) announced Thursday that they had reached an agreement to allow IESS patients to continue to receive cancer treatments.
Management of the SOLCA foundation threatened on Tuesday to suspend treatments if the government did not make arrangements to pay a debt estimated to be $140 million, dating back more than a decade.
“We have reached an agreement that benefits both parties,” said IESS President Francisco Cepeda following the meeting. “We have many details to work out since the debt is substantial and we agreed to work on this in the coming weeks.”
Cepeda said that payments to SOLCA will be made from VAT collections, coordinated through the Ministry of Finance.
SOLCA representative Jose Jouvín confirmed that a “short-term” agreement had been reached and said his organization offered a 10 percent discount on the debt accumulated before 2020. “The service to IESS patients will not be interrupted,” he said. “We respect the good faith of the government to resolve the problem.”
On Wednesday, President Guillermo Lasso said paying the debt to SOLCA represented an “immense challenge” and instructed Cepeda to find a solution. “We inherited this debt from previous governments but understand it is now ours to pay,” he said. “And we will.”
Prior to Thursday’s meeting between IESS and SOLCA, the National Assembly’s Commission on the Right to Health requested that Lasso declare a state of emergency for the IESS health service system. In addition to the obligation to SOLCA, the commission said IESS had “substantial overdue debts” to private hospitals as well as to private medical specialists.
SOLCA operates cancer treatment hospitals throughout Ecuador, the largest in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.