Netherlands - Amended Healthcare Bill Elicits more Naysaying in Parliament

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Further changes to the new healthcare law proposal by Dutch health minister Edith Schippers (VVD) drew doubts and opposition after Parliament heard the amended plan on Wednesday.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, hosted yet another debate on the bill in which a number of opposition MPs expressed skepticism at the functionality of the proposal, according to the Financieele Dagblad.

Schippers was forced to adjust her initial proposal after it was surprisingly rejected late last year in the Eerste Kamer. The Senate blocked it by a five-vote margin, which included dissent by three senators from coalition party the PvdA on the grounds that budget health insurance packages would limit the choices of healthcare providers available to patients.

The revised plan was aimed to control costs and raise care quality, but some MPs remain unconvinced. “I see the bomb the minister’s new plan dropped on December 16 hasn’t gone off, but rather created cluster munition. Measures that aren’t thought through will really hurt healthcare,” said MP Renske Leijten.

A controversial element of the new plan would allow insurers to provide discounted deductibles to patients on budget health insurance if they visit health centers and hospitals recommended by their health insurer.

GroenLinks was quick to criticize the provision, with MP Corinne Ellemeet alleging that the move would limit patients’ freedom to choose. “The power of insurance companies seem to hardly be limited and the quality of the care you get is not a priority,” she said.

Health insurers are presently able to offer a discount on deductibles, but few do so because of administration difficulties.

The plan presented on Wednesday stipulates an increase in quality checks, especially for mental health services. Providers failing to meet quality standards would not have their services paid for by insurers. This measure would expectedly cause a drop in the number of medical bills that insurers compensate, currently holding at a rate of approximately 75 percent.

The Cabinet foresaw the changes saving one billion euros in healthcare costs per year, though this was deemed unlikely by Parliament.

The minister said the new plans should reinforce previous agreements with care providers on quality and efficiency, and that this should lead to savings, reported the Financieele Dagblad.

The bill drew further criticism when the Cabinet revealed potential plans to make a General Administrative Order (GAO) if opposition to the bill persists. This would allow the bill to bypass the Senate. Schippers has since[SINCE WHEN?] said she does not want to bypass either house of Parliament through this method, which was called unconstitutional by Senate chairperson Ankie Broekers-Knol and described as contrary to the Constitution.

SOURCE: NL Times, February 12th, 2015,