Dutch News

25 April 2014
Dutch Lower House passes care reform legislation despite protests branch

Yesterday the Dutch Lower House has taken on the new legislation to reform and decentralise some of the care. The idea is to bring care closer to the people by handing over the responsibility and organisation to the municipalities. This decision was made despite the protests of the unions, the health insurers and a long list of well-known Dutch people. To them the reforms are implemented much too fast, which will lead to serious problems in 2015. They requested a postponement of one year.

The new legislation is called the Social Support Law determines what municipalities have to do to support people that need help like handicapped, sick and elderly people. The idea is to bring the care closer to the people that need it, close down elderly homes and force elderly to live at home for much longer. One of the ways toi make thius possible is the introduction of the participation society: family, friend and neighbours are stimulated to step in an voluntarily help as well. Many question if this plan will work in practice.


Although the care branch, insurers, elderly and many others are worried about the effects of the serious implementation of the care reforms, the government has to ignore this and move on. Delay is far too expensive and there are a few other reasons for the decisiveness of the Dutch government. To the cabinet there is no time to lose. The municipalities and the involved local care organisations need to know as soon as possible what their tasks will be and how much budget they will get exactly. That why it is planned to deal with the new care legislation is the Senate before the summer. So there is enough time for the practical implementation.


Postponement of the Social Support Law would also no change anything of the negative image the Dutch cabinet got as a rigid and inhuman budget cutter.  A club of insurers calculated that in the near future around 200 elderly homes will be closed. Although the government is objecting the calculation many question if it will be possible to keep so many elderly at home and away from an elderly home.


Last but not least, the Dutch government needs to reach the European budget agreements to cut 1.3 billion in 2015, up to 3 billion in 2017. Last year the Dutch got respite to reach the 3% deficit rule, with the deal that they would implement the structural care reforms swiftly. The future will tell if the fears for a total mess in the care branch is legitimate and if elderly living at home will be the victim of the reforms. Because in the end it looks like the reforms are mainly a way to cut budget and hand over responsibility locally. Or maybe bringing care closer to the people and the idea of the participation society will really work.







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