August 23rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s public healthcare system, CCSS (Caja) is challenging a 1982 law that requires it to divert millions of dollars that could be used for patient care to the purchase of works of art in order to “stimulate” the arts in Costa Rica.
Since the law was enacted, CCSS has acquired 533 pieces of art, including expensive sculptures, paintings, murals, lithographs and more.
Many such pieces of art are actually in the offices of CCSS employees, and few are available for public enjoyment.
The present value of works of art owned by the CCSS is ¢ 2.1 billion (about $4.2 million), funds which could be used to purchase medicine, equipment, or improve hospital infrastructure.
The CCSS is obligated by Law No. 6,750 for the Encouragement of Costa Rican Fine Arts to purchase the artwork.
Under the law, CCSS as well as other state bodies must invest between 1% and 2% of the total cost of any new infrastructure in the acquisition of works of art.
The most expensive piece in CCSS’s vast collection is the sculpture La Maternidad, worth $1 million. It is located in the halls of the Women’s Hospital.
CCSS Executive President, Ileana Balmaceda has decided to challenge the law, and her challenge has been welcomed by the Constitutional Court (Sala IV).
Balmaceda’s challenge is based on Article 73 of the Constitution, which stipulates that social insurance resources – such as those for healthcare – “may not be transferred or used for purposes other than those for which they were created.”