Barend van Lieshout: Health warning: Samsom’s care plans may seriously harm his voters

Barend van Lieshout thinks Diederik Samsom’s healthcare plans are old hat and will mean a return to waiting lists.

New PvdA leader Diederik Samsom may get the party back on track but his healthcare plans are set to do more harm than good: they are outdated, don’t address any of the problems and, worst of all in the PvdA’s case, they won’t benefit society’s most vulnerable people.
Central role
Samsom has taken note of the fact that an aging population means demands on healthcare will increase, and stated that ‘the poor live seven years less than the rich’. He despises the role of market forces in healthcare which he maintains will cause a rift in society and promote unnecessary volume growth. His solution is an obvious one: the government should reclaim its central role by optimising care in the regions through insurers whose main task will be prevention instead of competition, and local councils who will be responsible for long-term care.
Is that the fresh new point of view of Diederik, the red engineer? A dusted down policy from the bottom drawer of fellow parliamentary party member Eelke van de Veen, from the time he worked at the Ziekenfonds national health service? Apparently the party archives don’t hold any evidence of how things weren’t exactly perfect in the days of government controlled healthcare either. Centrally led healthcare rationing resulted in long waiting lists and capacity allocation based on political pragmatism. Samsom wonders aloud why there are so many emergency care departments (SEHs) in the Randstad. Well, Diederik, they date from the times when the government was doling them out to any hospital who would have one. A return to a government controlled healthcare system will inevitably lead to waiting lists and waiting lists are bad, especially for the poor whose life expectancy Samsom is so worried about . The rich will always find a way to get what they need, abroad or in a private clinic. It’s the poor who will be stuck in the queue. That is not very red at all.
Old mantras
The PvdA is trying to distinguishes itself from the other parties again. The old mantras of the redistribution of wealth with the rich paying to benefit the poor are doing the rounds once more. But the poor from those Ziekenfonds days no longer exist. PvdA voters are used to choosing where they want to get their healthcare from. They shop on the net, they have become used to service and transparency and have changed healthcare providers before a central government healthcare boss could even lift his quill pen. People are not going to stand for waiting lists, less choice or a local council which determines the kind of care they will get. We’re very well able to that for ourselves, thank you very much, and often we do it better and more cheaply than the government. It’s called market forces.
Barend van Lieshout is a care advisor at Rebel

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