San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Lawmakers pass doctors’ salary law

All 46 lawmakers present o Thursday at Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly voted in a second and final round of debate a law that clarifies how to calculate the salaries of doctors working for the state-run Social Security System, or Caja.

Doctor bonuses and incentives for overtime, availability and night shifts must now be calculated on base salaries and not on gross salaries.

The new law was proposed as an urgent measure to prevent the Caja “from entering into a new financial crisis that would likely close the institution,” said Caja Executive President Ileana Balmaceda last week.

The law clarifies Articles 5 and 13 of the current “Incentives Law” and allows the Caja to curb some 2,000 lawsuits that would cost up to ₡170 billion ($340 million). However, the institution has already lost 350 lawsuits, costing some ₡3,7 billion ($7 million).

Doctor union representatives said earlier this week that they won’t rule out an appeal before international organizations if the law was passed.

Social Christian Unity Party lawmaker Luis Fishman said that “doctors can now, if they want, submit an appeal before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.” For now the law will be sent to the executive branch to be signed by President Laura Chinchilla before publication in the official newspaper La Gaceta.

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Doctors’ salary law

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