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Finland to tweak health reform after lawmakers call it unconstitutional
June 29, 2017 / 12:10 PM / 3 months ago

Finland to tweak health reform after lawmakers call it unconstitutional

HELSINKI, June 29 (Reuters) - The Finnish government said on Wednesday it would press ahead with its planned health care reform but would address objections raised by a key parliamentary committee which said parts of the proposal were in breach of Finland’s constitution.

The reform is a cornerstone in Prime Minister Juha Sipila’s plan to balance Finland’s public finances and boost the Finnish economy after a decade of stagnation. The health care reform would include spending cuts of 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion).

The health care system currently runs on a mix of public and private providers. The government has said it wants to boost competition between the two by opening up more opportunities to the private sector while still incorporating public service providers.

“The committee found that privatisation would endanger citizens equal access to social and health services”, Annika Lapintie, committee chairman and lawmaker in the opposition party Left Alliance, said at a news conference.

To pass the reform in parliament Sipila’s government needs approval from the committee, which oversees constitutional law. Finland does not have a constitutional court as found in many other countries.

The government responded by saying it would implement the reform as planned but that it would “study the committee’s statement ... and make a supplementary proposal without delay.”

It did not elaborate on what the extra proposal would entail.

Finland’s centre-right coalition agreed on the complex set of reforms spanning health care and regional administration in December, after years of negotiations. The issue nearly toppled the government in 2015.

On a state visit to China, Sipila did also not give any details on possible changes.

“Amending the proposal will take weeks. The process moves to early autumn”, Sipila was cited as saying by Finnish media.

The committed had said the planned implementation of the reform in January 2019 was unrealistic and called on the government to bring a new or amended bill to the parliament.

Overall, the government plans to find savings worth 10 billion euros to balance public finances over the long term. ($1 = 0.8767 euros) (Reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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