Elina Lepomäki (NCP) has stunned even some of her party comrades by urging the government to call off the long-discussed social, health care and regional government reform.
Lepomäki on Wednesday estimated that the draft bill for the social, health care and regional government reform should be thrown out because the bill does not meet the objectives set for the massive reform.
“I think it is high time to recognise that the reform bill will not meet the objectives set for it. The bill would generate no cost savings, and there is no reason to presume that it would improve the quality or accessibility of care services,” she stated.
“The bill for increasing freedom of choice will not lead to beneficial competition,” added Lepomäki.
“The markets will revolve around a couple of major service providers, which will have all the power going forward. Smaller service providers will have no foothold in this system,” she stated.
Her remarks came as a surprise particularly because the National Coalition has been adamant that social and health care customers should be granted greater freedom to choose their service provider, be it a public or private one, as part of the reform.
Lepomäki also expressed her concern about the role of the counties to be established as part of the regional government reform.
The 19 counties, she warned, will have no incentive to spend their funds efficiently because of the fact that the responsibility to organise social and health care services has been imposed on them from above. The government cannot simply tighten its purse strings when the when the counties run out of funds, she explained.
“The counties will become teller machines that forward state funds to service providers,” she said.
Petteri Orpo (NCP), the Minister of Finance, admitted to Iltalehti that he was surprised by the remarks of Lepomäki.
“I was surprised because we’ve discussed the matter almost on weekly basis for three years. I haven’t heard her speaking about this earlier,” he said to the tabloid daily on Wednesday.
Orpo also rejected the interpretation that the bill to increase the freedom of social and health care customers to choose their service provider would be harmful to small service providers. “I disagree,” he retorted. “I believe that the freedom of choice [bill] would genuinely increase people’s freedom of choice, not decrease it.”
Lepomäki also revealed that her views are shared by some other members of the National Coalition.
“It has been known all along that there are people in our group who aren’t exactly excited about the county system,” responded Orpo. “But I personally haven’t heard anyone criticise the care reform and freedom of choice.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi