Finnish politicians distance themselves from industrial well being care suppliers after gov’t resigns

HELSINKI, March 10 (Xinhua) — Within days of the failure of the health care reform, which resulted in the resignation of the Finnish coalition government, key figures of two ruling parties have distanced themselves in public from the business interests of the commercial health sector.

On Sunday, the executives of the big three private health conglomerates, namely Terveystalo, Pihlajalinna and Mehilainen, demanded in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper that current legal restrictions for them to take over municipal primary health facilities should be lifted, now that the reform had failed.

The unsuccessful governmental reform plan had envisioned an opening-up of the tax-financed public health care system to be for profit. The idea was first proposed by conservative National Coalition Party and won support of the Center Party.

Finland’s public primary care is currently in the hands of municipalities. The reform had expected the provinces to take over and both commercial companies and public entities to act as providers paid by the provinces.

Local commentators have attributed the failure of the reform largely to the constitutional problems related to the entry of the for-profit operators. With the parliamentary election a month away, few politicians want to be seen as a promoter of the commercial health sector.

Annika Saarikko, minister for family affairs and social services in the current caretaker cabinet, reacted strongly to the private conglomerates, accusing them of having a “poor understanding of the social climate”.

Also the conservative party chairman Petteri Orpo said on Sunday the commercial companies should now “consider what they say”. He said the restrictions on outsourcing to commercial operators should remain valid.

Saarikko said the commercial companies are trying to expand their business and benefit from the financial plight of small municipalities. She said the companies show unbelievably poor ability to understand the public opinion.

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