Venezuelan Private Hospitals Agree to Freeze Fees



Trying to rein in health care costs, private hospitals in Venezuela said they would freeze their fees temporarily, the country’s health minister said.

The measure is part of efforts by President Hugo Chavez's government to contain health care costs while also trying to curb inflation now running at an annual rate of 25 percent.

Health Minister Eugenia Sader says private hospitals have agreed not to raise their fees for at least three weeks.

She calls it a temporary measure while officials and hospital administrators discuss ways of lowering costs.

Chavez has long accused Venezuela's private hospitals of denying access to poor and middle-class people who lack health insurance and cannot afford treatment.

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Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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