Ministers silent after crisis talks to solve health premium row

The new Dutch coalition is to amend its controversial plan to make health insurance premiums income-related after an unprecedented backlash from supporters and party elders.


Prime minister Mark Rutte, social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher, health minister Edith Schippers and the two parliamentary leaders Diederik Samsom and Halbe Zijlstra held crisis talks on Thursday night as the row over the plans showed no sign of abating.
Although no-one would comment on leaving the talks, Nos television say its sources have indicated changes are on the way. There were ‘far-reaching’ talks about the ‘political reality,’ Asscher said.
Income tax
According to the Telegraaf, the talks are set to continue today. It says the shift to an income-related health premium could be scrapped, but that plans to cut income tax will also then be ditched.
It became clear early on Thursday evening that the two ruling parties – the right-wing VVD and Labour party PvdA – wanted to find a solution to the dispute and that several options were on the table, Nos says.
The plans to increase health insurance premiums in line with income would have led to around one in six households seeing their disposable income cut by over 5%. In particular the VVD was overwhelmed with protests and support for the party slumped in recent polls.
Opposition leaders also made it clear they would not vote in favour of the plan in the senate. The coalition does not have majority support in the upper house of parliament.
The lower house is due to debate the new government’s plans with ministers on Tuesday.
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