This paper discusses the measures adopted by the Italian government to face the COVID-19 emergency after the first wave in March/April 2020. This study places these measures in light of the massive reform process based on the “managerialism” of healthcare, which started in the 1990s. These reforms, which were inspired by the ideas of ‘New Public Management’, introduced managerialism, regionalization and quasi-markets to the Italian National Health System. As a result, dramatic changes have been made in public healthcare, and the responsibility for healthcare was decentralized to regions, introducing a multi-level governance structure. The COVID-19 emergency has drawn the results of this approach into question. With the enactment of new decrees, the central government directly intervened in the management of the health system by introducing specific measures aiming to increase the number of hospital beds and personnel, which w previously downsized. We describe the main content of the new measures adopted to face the COVID-19 emergency and discuss how key points of the managerialization process in Italy are being questioned as a result of these measures. The COVID-19 emergency will likely redesign the trajectory of health reforms in Italy and other countries in Europe.
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