VVD on the offensive over coalition deal ahead of congress

The right-wing VVD Liberals are organising a string of regional meeting at which the party’s 41 MPs will explain the coalition agreement with Labour, news agency ANP reports on Friday.

The meetings are aimed at winning members’ approval for the deal – particularly the controversial plans to introduce income-related healthcare premiums. They are being held in the run-up to the VVD annual conference on November 24.
‘As you know, building a coalition is a question of give and take,’ ANP quotes the VVD website as saying. ‘We would rather not have included’ items such as changing mortgage tax relief and health insurance.
The party has come under heavy fire in recent days over the health insurance plans, with thousands of complaints from members and senior party members and a major onslaught from the Telegraaf newspaper.
A new poll by Maurice de Hond on Friday shows 56% of VVD voters think they have been betrayed by prime minister Mark Rutte and a large majority hopes the upper house of parliament will reject the plans.
Nevertheless, VVD parliamentarians on Thursday agreed to back the measure after a four-hour meeting with new leader Halbe Zijlstra.
Nos television calculated the new system will cost people earning over €70,000 a month €480 in health insurance premiums. The new VVD-Labour coalition admits the better-off will be hard hit but says they will benefit from lower taxes.
The Telegraaf reports on Friday that from 2014 when the new health insurance premiums are due to come into effect there will be three levels of own-risk.
Very low incomes will pay the first €180, low incomes €350 and high incomes €595. The paper does not define the income limits. In addition, people will no longer be able to opt for a high own-risk to reduce their basic premiums, the paper says.
The own-risk is a compulsory part of the health insurance system.

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