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Second Chamber also demands clarity on BES islands’ health care insurance

FRIDAY, 08 FEBRUARY 2013

THE HAGUE–The Second Chamber of the Dutch Government shares the concerns of the First Chamber where it comes to health care in the Caribbean Netherlands and the decision of Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers to trim the health insurance package on the islands per July 1, 2013.

Parties in the Second Chamber used the opportunity to submit written questions and express their concerns to Minister Schippers. The contributions of the parties represented in the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports were sent to the Minister on Thursday.

Member of Parliament (MP) Pierre Heijnen of the Labour Party PvdA said that for the PvdA this issue was not yet over as his party had some problems with the Minister’s decision and the way this decision had been taken without prior consultation of the islands. “I have the same concerns as the Senate,” he said. He announced that there would be a debate with the Minister in the near future.

Not only the PvdA but also the Democratic D66 Party and the Christian Union (CU) want clarity on the exact reasons for the steep increase in health care cost of 20 million euros in 2012 and are asking the Minister to look at alternatives to manage the cost of health care.

MP Wassila Hachchi and her colleagues of D66 Pia Dijkstra and Vera Bergkamp were critical of the decision of Minister Schippers to level the health care insurance package in the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as much as possible with the package in The Netherlands.

“The Minister unfairly makes a comparison with the European Netherlands. There are clear differences in the social economic situation between the Caribbean Netherlands and the European part of The Netherlands. The average income on the islands is much lower and there is no level playing field where it comes to the (social) allowances regime,” the MPs of D66 stated.

D66 urged the Minister to get in contact with the health insurance providers to look at offering additional insurance for the people of the Caribbean Netherlands. Additional health insurance is possible in The Netherlands, but not on the islands. The CU also urged the Minister to make it possible for people in the Caribbean Netherlands to take additional health care insurance.

The Democrats were further irked by the fact that the Minister only announced the decision to curb the health care insurance package for the Caribbean Netherlands on December 21, 2012, 10 days before the measures would go into effect.

“We find it a shame that the initial implementation date of January 1, 2013, was only moved up by six months after the commotion on the islands.” According to D66, the communication was poor and communication errors such as these should be prevented in the future.

The CU voiced its concern about the elimination of physical therapy from the health care insurance in the Caribbean Netherlands. The fact that the people on the islands do not have the possibility to take additional insurance has consequences for physical therapy care.

MP Ari Slob of the CU asked whether people of the islands could still make use of physical therapy care after July 1, 2013. “Is there a risk that physical therapy will completely disappear from the Caribbean Netherlands? Surely that cannot be the intention.”

Slob said he understood that the Minister had to carefully look at the increasing health care cost on the islands. He asked for answers to the same questions that the First Chamber has already posed to the Minister about the increase in cost. These questions have to do with the changed euro-to-US Dollar exchange rate, the initial budget calculation which was too low, the efforts to bring health care to a higher level, the insular and small situation of the islands and the cost of medical referrals abroad.

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