Cabinet agrees to slash spending on personal healthcare budgets

Ministers on Wednesday agreed to slash spending on personal healthcare budgets by removing the payment altogether for some 117,000 people.

From 2014, only people classified as needing residential care will be eligible for a personal care budget, which is used to help them live independently.
Some 130,000 people currently get financial help under the scheme, up from 50,000 in 2003, junior health minister Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten said in her briefing note. Spending is currently at around €2.2bn a year, but this will soon reach €3bn, the minister said.
People no longer eligible for the extra money will have to look to their health insurance company and local councils for help, the minister said. Health insurers will then decide what extra care is needed and who should provide it.
‘We have to limit the personal care budget to those who really need it. The system cannot continue as it is,’ prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
According to the Volkskrant, the setting up of the PGB system in 1996 has led to people claiming money to help with services previously carried out by friends and family. Help with shopping, personal care and general nursing can all be paid for by the scheme.
Opposition MPs said the plan will hurt some of the most vulnerable people in society. ‘The cabinet is destroying in a couple of years something which has taken 20 years to build up,’ Labour MP Agnes Wolbert is quoted as saying by Trouw. ‘The cabinet is turning the clock back to the time that people went to a nursing home when they reached 65.’
ChristenUnie MP Esme Wiegman said the changes are being presented as an improvement in quality. ‘But they are cuts and that is what we will continue saying,’ she said. ‘These cuts mean people will be forced back into care homes.’
Fleur Agnes, of the government’s anti-Islam alliance partner PVV, said her party would support the reforms. ‘They mean an improvement for people who need long term care because they will get an extra 5% to spend,’ she said.
The support of the PVV means the reforms have a slim majority in the lower house of parliament.
Earlier stories
Major shake-up for non-residential care
Ministers may slash personal care budget

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