Coalition gov't working to limit fallout despite health bill collapse

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The Coalition parties are still hard at work trying to limit the fallout caused by Minister Edith Schippers' (Public Health) collapsing health legislative proposal.

After spending hours in an emergency meeting last night, no solution had been found. But the Cabinet and coalition parties started working on it again first thing this morning. Schippers had an hour long meeting with PvdA leader Diederik Samson and dissident senator Marijke Linthorst at the Ministry of Social Affairs this morning. The other two dissenters were not present.

This morning, the first conciliatory words came from Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The government will "definitely" find a way out, he said. Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher was also present with reassurances -  we are working on a solution, he said.

For two years Minister Schippers worked to gain support for her health care plan, both in the industry and in the opposition. The D66, ChristenUnie and SGP reluctantly voted for the plan in exchange for softening the cutbacks in long term care. The sick SGP Senator Gerrig Holdijk specially went to the First Chamber to fulfill his agreement with the coalition. But unexpectedly Adri Duivesteijn, Guusje Ter Horst and Marijke Linthorst, three PvdA members, voted against the plan and destroyed the narrow majority.

A long row of betrayed parties now want an explanation from PvdA leader Diederik Samson, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Minister Schippers, VVD party leader Halbe Zijlstra, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, SGP leader Kees van der Staaij, ChristenUnie leader Arie Slob and the health insurers.

The last words we heard about this crisis last night was from Prime Minister Rutte at 01:30 a.m. : "It is important that agreements we make with each other in politics also be honored. At that point today something clearly went wrong." Samson has a lot to answer for, and will have to do his absolute best today.

Schippers' care plan involves a more favorable regime for insurers. Currently insurers have to reimburse treatment at all healthcare agencies. Schippers wants to create a new kind of policy that reimburses treatment, but leaves the choice of healthcare agency up to the insurer. According to the minister this will cause the quality and price of healthcare to improve as the insurers can buy in bulk by signing contracts with hospitals. It would force hospitals to specialize, which would improve the quality. And the citizen would win because the health insurance policy would be cheaper. A more expensive policy would also remain in which the citizen retains free choice of doctor.

 

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