Colombia's health bill to cost up to $2.64 billion annually for next decade

Presidential Candidate Gustavo Petro for the political alliance 'Pacto Historico' speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bogota

BOGOTA (Reuters) -The Colombian government's health reform plan will cost from $1.86 billion to $2.64 billion each year for the next decade, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.

President Gustavo Petro presented the bill to Congress in mid-February in a bid to boost disease prevention and timely treatment of illnesses, as well as increase access, raise healthcare worker wages and fight corruption by eliminating payment intermediaries.

If passed, the reform would cost 9 trillion pesos ($1.86 billion) in 2024, before progressively rising over the next 10 years to reach 12.8 trillion pesos ($2.64 billion) in 2033.

The bill is supported by members of Petro's coalition in Congress but has received criticism from some heavyweight political allies including Senate President Roy Barreras, some cabinet ministers, and opposition figures who have railed against plans to eliminate the current health system.

Important points of agreement have been reached with leaders of coalition parties over the health reform, Petro said, adding that the government will also receive proposals from those parties which include changes to the original bill.

"We have agreed that the presidents of the parties will bring proposals for the articles that they consider should be modified," Petro said.

Analysts have raised alarms over the bill's potential fiscal impact on Colombia's already weak finances.

Petro plans to present other reforms on labor and pensions, and is also eyeing plans to implement subsidy programs for students who cannot pay to access university as well as for poor families.

($1 = 4,849.65 Colombian pesos)

(Reporting by Nelson BocanegraWriting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot)