Rome

Italian cabinet poised to approve softened health bill

Controversial tax on soft drinks out of draft

Italian cabinet poised to approve softened health bill

(ANSA) - Rome, September 5 - Italy's cabinet appeared poised Wednesday to approve a much-softened health-care bill that contains less stringent measures that previously discussed. As cabinet ministers debated the bill, outside their meeting rooms there was friction between lobby groups for change and those in favour of leaving Italy's health system as it is. Concerns about the constitutionality of some measures led to their removal from the bill, said government sources who admitted "the scope of the measures" wass less than initially expected. The number of articles in the bill has been trimmed to 16 from the original 27. A controversial tax on soft drinks has disappeared from the latest version of the bill, and replaced with a proposed ban on raw milk and fish from school cafeterias. But proposals on distancing gaming machines from schools, stiffer fines for selling tobacco to minors, and strict advertising limits on related products still feature. Proposals to limit physicians' expenditures were removed as were articles regarding electronic record-keeping. Other proposals, particularly those dealing with primary care, clinical governance - including the appointments process for regional directors - and professional liability clauses remained in the bill.

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