Greek Lawmakers Adopt 'Parallel Program' to Assist Vulnerable People

© Flickr / jase™Attica, Greece
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Greek lawmakers voted in favor of a "parallel program" late Saturday to assist the vulnerable segment of the population with medical insurance and to create local government jobs for the unemployed.

ATHENS (Sputnik) – The program aims to soften the austerity measures agreed to under the third international and European bailout package to rescue the strained Greek economy. The bill was withdrawn in December because of pressure from Greece’s creditors.

The "parallel program" was buoyed by votes of the ruling Syriza-Anel radical left coalition.

Opposition New Democracy, Golden Dawn and Union of Centrists parties voted against the program, while Democratic Coalition, Communist and To Potami parties abstained. Opposition lawmakers have nonetheless supported a number of provisions contained in the bill

Health Minister Andreas Xanthos defended the "parallel program" as a way to tackle the social challenges of insuring the uninsured and improving the healthcare industry’s efficiency. Xanthos further sought to allay fears that the new program would provide free medical insurance for all.

The Greek economy has been severely strained for several years after the country accumulated multibillion debt following the 2008 world economic crisis.

Under two previous bailout programs, Greece received around $270 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurozone nations.

In August 2015, Greece’s lenders approved a third bailout package of around $97 billion in exchange for unpopular austerity reforms, including pension cuts and tax hikes.

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