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French and “mystery money”, a denial that lasted for fifty years

French and “mystery money”, a denial that lasted for fifty years

I recently had hip surgery (the operation went well, thank you) and when I left the clinic in Caen, the doctor told me to write a prescription for a taxi to come to me. Search and take me to my Normandy hills, 35 kilometers away.

You are very kind (or the French state), I replied, but my wife will come and take me in the car. The doctor looked surprised and a little disappointed. Why should my wife be forced to drive 70 kilometers because she volunteered to return home at the taxpayer's expense?

However, I note with interest that one of the biggest increases in social security spending in recent years is worrying “Medical Transport of Patients”.

The French government currently spends €5.7 billion a year, or €15.6 million a day, picking up and dropping off patients at their medical appointments or when they leave hospital.

I emphasize that we are not talking about ambulance emergency services. It is a separate service, free of charge in most cases, on a doctor's prescription, partially paid for by patients or their mutual insurance, that allows them to go for a check-up or return home after hospitalization. The service is mainly for the elderly or those suffering from long-term illnesses, not only in rural areas but also in cities.

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We learned on Tuesday that the French government's general budget deficit exploded last year to 5.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), instead of the 4.9% initially projected by the government. This decline in public accounts is not related to an increase in spending, but in the last quarter of 2023, the French economy – which had boomed at the start of the year – was overtaken by a slowdown in China's economy. , Germany and elsewhere.

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It's a big problem — and yet another problem — for President Emmanuel Macron, who has promised not to raise taxes, invest heavily in schools, health and defense, and above all cut France's deficit below 3% of GDP. By 2027 as desired by the European Union.

All these major projects can only be implemented by significantly reducing other public expenditure items. Otherwise, the public deficit will be 5.7% of GDP this year and 5.9% in 2025.

If nothing is done to adjust the accounts