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Russian government denies that it plans to deprive unemployed citizens of free healthcare benefits

The Kremlin's press service has denied that a law is being drafted to deprive unemployed citizens the right to free medical care.

"Neither the government, nor in the Ministry of Labor is developing any legislation that would suggest introducing non-subsidized medical care for unemployed citizens," said the press service on Thursday.

The government stressed that the provision of free healthcare (both on the federal and the municipal level) is guaranteed by the Russia constitution.

Previously, the press service said that "it [was] necessary to distinguish between those citizens who are unemployed and the millions of people who work in the 'gray economy' and do not pay taxes."

On Wednesday, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister of Labor Olga Golodets announced that a bill was being prepare to force unemployed people to pay for the use of healthcare centers and hospitals.

Under current Russian law, unemployed citizens do not pay insurance fees, including those for mandatory health insurance.

In a 2014 document on fiscal policy, it was mentioned that compulsory contributions could be introduced in 2015-2017 for unemployed citizens to maintain access to health insurance in the future. Ministry of Labor has prepared a bill that would force unemployed people to pay for the use of healthcare centers and hospitals. This was announced by on Wednesday.

In early September 2016, Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the Federation Council—Russia's upper house of parliament—said that citizens must either pay social security or receive fewer medical benefits.