Centre and National Coalition at loggerheads over care reform

Minister of the Interior Paula Risikko (NCP) attended a question time session in the Parliament House in Helsinki on 15 June, 2017.

The Centre and the National Coalition have yet again found themselves at loggerheads over the reforms of regional governance and social and health care services.

Paula Risikko (NCP), the Minister of the Interior, on Monday estimated that the process to reform regional governance should be suspended until any possible constitutional issues in the bill to grant consumers greater freedom of choice over their social and health care service provider have been resolved.

The Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee is to comment on the much-disputed bill on Friday.

The bill is widely expected to require several revisions, whereas that for establishing new county governments is only expected to require minor revisions to pass the constitutional test, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Risikko estimated in an interview with Lännen Media on Monday that major revisions to the bill would “very likely” necessitate revisions to both the bill for reforming regional governance and the bill for re-assigning the responsibility for organising social and health care services to the newly-established counties.

Many of her party comrades echoed her demands on Monday.

The demands also provoked a response from several members of the Centre Party, especially because they cast doubts over whether the regional elections can be held according to plan in January, 2018.

Matti Vanhanen, the presidential candidate of the Centre, voiced his bafflement with the demands.

“This is an inexplicable proposal, because there are no constitutional issues in regards to the act on county governance as far as we know,” he said in a public statement.

The Constitutional Law Committee, he pointed out, is responsible for verifying the constitutional compliance of draft bills, while the government is responsible for revising the bills accordingly. The process is legal rather than political in nature, he reminded.

“The Constitutional Law Committee must be allowed to perform its duties without interference. Minister Risikko’s decision to impose conditions on one of the key reforms of the government can be interpreted as an attempt to apply pressure on the Constitutional Law Committee,” wrote Vanhanen.

One of the main problems with the reform bill is that it would force the counties to incorporate the public social and health care services that compete against private-sector services or fall within the scope of consumers’ freedom of choice.

The National Coalition has argued that the bill granting consumers greater freedom of choice over their provider of social and health care services is an integral part of the reform, as it would open up the social and health care sector to competition.

Read other news on the city site of Helsinki.

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