The head of major Paris hospital group AP-HP has hypothetically questioned if unvaccinated people in France should have to pay for their Covid-related medical care.
Martin Hirsch, director-general of Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) – which comprises 39 Paris hospitals that treat more than 8.3 million patients per year – raised the issue on TV discussion show C à Vous on France 5 last night (Wednesday, January 26).
He said: “When a free, preventative measure is available, which can be used, which is recognised by the scientific community as something useful; and someone decides not to take it, can they really do that without there being any consequences?
“Or do we reach out to help, but we say there is no reason that there wouldn’t be consequences for them, when there will be [consequences] for other patients who we are struggling to care for, who can’t do anything about their condition.”
He added: “I don’t want to close the doors of the hospital to anyone, but we must encourage responsibility, which allows everyone to benefit.”
Mr Hirsch said he recognised how “delicate” the question was, and said the answer wasn’t “obvious”.
He said: “If we recognised the need for a testing system to be put in place every year, should we have access to the exact same protection and reimbursement if we don’t do it, as someone who does do it?
“I don’t want spending on health to explode because of irresponsible behaviour that is compromising everyone else’s solidarity.”
Backlash: ‘A philosophical question’
Mr Hirsch’s comments have provoked opposition from some.
Presidential election candidate Florian Philippot, right-wing leader of Les Patriotes party, said: “Martin Hirsch wants to make non-vaccinated people pay to continue receiving care! So we just let poor people die? In a normal country, this kind of guy would be sacked on the spot!”
Mr Philippot has also called Mr Hirsch’s comments “shameful” and later tweeted: “We ask all doctors who prefer the Hippocratic oath to the Pfizer oath, to recall loud and clear the principles of support and equality in health care!”
Suite aux propos honteux de #MartinHirschDehors, nous demandons aux médecins qui préfèrent le serment d'Hippocrate au serment de Pfizer, de rappeler haut et fort les principes de solidarité et d'égalité devant les soins !— Florian Philippot (@f_philippot) January 27, 2022
➡️ Vous êtes la majorité, reprenez le pouvoir !
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, herself also a presidential candidate, has also come out against the suggestion.
She told BMFTV and RMC: “I am not in agreement with this kind of measure. We have defined a strategy, which is vaccination, and we have to increase and continue with it, because it protects.
“[Mr Hirsch’s idea] is a philosophical question that I would not resolve in this way. I think society is already too divided and we must bring people in France together.”