Government crisis: optimism, but no solution (yet)

The Binnenhof
. Binnenhof, The Hague (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/F.Eveleens)

Despite three Labour Senators saying they are still not prepared to vote in favour of a new legislative action that would limit the rights of medical patients, the prospect of a solution is apparently in sight. The crisis began Tuesday night when the supported by the coalition government.

The left wing PvdA (Labour) is the coalition partner of the conservative VVD party, the largest party of both Dutch houses of parliament.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) cancelled his participation in an EU summit to instead conference with Health Minister Edith Schippers and party leader Halbe Zijlstra. Schippers reportedly said if the PvdA did not come up with a solution. Meanwhile, a compromise between the VVD and the three dissident Senators may have been reached, reports the Financieele Dagblad.

The Prime Minister refused to answer questions about the meeting saying he did not want to harm the process, according to AD.nl, but he was upbeat about the negotiations.

PvdA Senator Guusje ter Horst, a former Minister of the Interior, said that the two sides are near an agreement, but the three Senators are unwilling to bend on their requirement that the “balance of power between insurers, health care providers and the insured” be restored.

The bill, a pillar of the coalition agreement, strips the guarantee that health insurers will reimburse patients at least 75 percent of the cost to see an out-of-network medical specialist.

Both coalition parties worked behind the scenes to secure votes from parties D66, ChristenUnie and SGP to whip the votes needed to pass the legislation in the Senate. At the last minute, PvdA Senators Ter Horst,Marijke Linthorst en Adri Duivesteijn  defected from the coalition.

The bill went down by a vote count of 33 in favour to 38 against. Opponents say the bill continues to erode consumer benefits while giving more control to health insurers. Supporters say that it will lead to a billion euros in savings, resulting in lower health insurance premiums, and that insurers will be required to annually publish the doctors they have under contract.

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