The Dutch cabinet crises caused by the decision of three Labour senators to torpedo key health reforms, continued on Wednesday with no sign of a solution in sight. According to the Volkskrant, VVD Health Minister Edit Schippers has told the Labour party to come up with a way out of the impasse by the end of the day. Some sources say Schippers will step down unless she gets her way. Talks between party officials have been ongoing throughout the day. “It is important that we carry out agreements made between political parties,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday night after talks in his offices. “Those involved are now working on a solution and let us be clear that it is extremely important that a solution is found.” Political commentators say they expect some changes in the wording of the legislation to appease the senators’ fears. Schippers wants to give more power to health insurance companies, so they can restrict freedom of choice for patients.
The government had struck a deal with three opposition parties to support the controversial measure, but three senators of the Labour Party PvdA refused to back it, saying they fear the change would give too much power to health insurance companies. Four insurance companies dominate 90 per cent of the Dutch market. Doctors Patients’ groups and doctors’ organisations have welcomed the senate’s decision. They want more measures in place to restrict health insurance companies’ powers. Freedom of choice has always been central to the Dutch healthcare system. At the moment, health insurance companies are required by law to pick up 75 per cent of the bill, if a patient is treated by a company they do not have a contract with. Schippers wanted to abandon this principle, so health insurers could develop a range of budget policies with basic coverage and no freedom of choice. She says this would boost competition between health insurers, and improve the quality of care, as well as making it cheaper.