Sunday 23 January 2022

Scrapping the health insurance reforms: What the papers say

The decision by the new cabinet to drop its plans to make health insurance premiums income-dependent created a great deal of comment in the weekend papers.

The Financieele Dagblad says the VVD and PvdA have taken a sensible decision to drop the plans and have listened to the concerns of VVD supporters.
But the fury the measure evoked do make one ask if the coalition has the right capacity to lead the Netherlands, the paper states.Those doubts will remain even though the plan for health insurance has been dropped.
‘VVD leader Mark Rutte and Labour leader Diederik Samsom must come up with a believable declaration of how this unfortunate decision came to be taken,’ the paper says. ‘There are two options: a lack of expertise or a lack of experience.’
Both these options beg the question if the governance of the country is in good hands since the September 12 general election. ‘Rutte and Samsom have got 4.5 years to show they can do better,’ the FD concludes.


The Volkskrant points out that a coalition agreement has never before been broken open in the same week as the new ministerial team was presented to the public. But the pressure was too great on the VVD and the party has opted for a painful loss of face in place of a total political crisis.
The VVD would appear to have made a strategic error in agreeing to allow the redistribution of wealth via health insurance, the paper says.
While the PvdA had agreed to compromise on issues close to its heart – by agreeing to cuts in development aid and unemployment benefit for example – they do not hit people quite so hard or quite so obviously, the paper points out in its analysis.
The Parool says the affair has been the biggest blunder in prime minister Mark Rutte’s political career. Both he and Samsom were very keen to ensure there were no leaks during the coalition talks and were largely successful, the paper points out.
But this means the health insurance plans were kept secret until it was too late. If a civil servant had leaked the plan, Rutte would have realised how much opposition there would be and would have been able to take action earlier.
Now Rutte has become the biggest victim of the radio silence. He has been forced to correct the agreement in front of everyone, the paper states. He is in debt to the PvdA and support for his own party has halved in the polls.
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