Dutch Cabinet Averts a Collapse as It Agrees on Health-Care Bill

The Dutch government coalition of the Liberal VVD and Labor parties reached an agreement on a health-care bill, averting a collapse.

’’The cabinet will amend the content of the bill and will send a new proposal to parliament, considering the arguments and the concerns discussed,’’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, a VVD member, said in a letter to parliament late Thursday. Earlier, Liberal leader Halbe Zijlstra said on Dutch TV program Nieuwsuur that the parties had reached an agreement.

A bill to give health insurers more power to pick health-care providers failed to get a majority late yesterday in the upper house of parliament after three Labor senators unexpectedly voted against it. The measure is intended to ultimately achieve annual savings of about 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion).

Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, a member of Labor, has been in talks with the three Labor senators over the past few days, together with Labor leader Diederik Samsom, in an effort to get them to approve the bill.

The health-care bill is part of a larger deal on health reached by the government with three opposition parties -- D66, the Christian Union and the SGP Reform Protestants. Rutte’s coalition needs support from opposition parties in the Senate as it lacks a majority in the upper house.

’’In case the amended bill is not adopted, the cabinet will discuss with parliament how ways can be found to live up to earlier agreements on the health-care bill,’’ Rutte said.

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