Healthcare reform full of big empty promises

The Finnish healthcare reform has been passing through the legislative process and the our parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee (CLC) has just finished ploughing through several thousands of pages of the healthcare reform bill.

It has taken weeks in this cross-party body with members leaking drafts to the press for political gain.

The report from the CLC has some very significant amendments the government’s reform bill. The most important are that the new Counties cannot stop servicing basic healthcare services to residents if they exceed their annual budget set by the Ministry of Finance each year. These services are a basic constitutional right of Finns that cannot be limited by budget constraints set by the government, the newly proposed counties or by municipalities.

This objection from the CLC basically knocks the whole package dead for the Conservative Party who have claimed all along that this budget limit must be put in place to contain the costs of public healthcare and social services over the next 10 years. Without this handcuff their promises of careful and controlled spending and tax cuts looks like a flat balloon.

The second big objection is that the “Freedom of Choice” promise, again driven hard by the Conservative Party, cannot be accepted in its present form because it will lead to “uncontrolled risks and endanger patient safety”, according to the chairwoman of the CLC. 

Again this, like the first objection above, was one of the main demands from the Conservative Party. It is therefore difficult to see that the members of that Party can go ahead and agree to a watered-down version of both points when so much has been promised and now will not be enacted.

The CLC has sent the huge bill for amendments to other committees in Parliament and we must wait for several months to see the next episode of the 2 decade long saga!

Photo: Parliament

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