Judge ends health care cuts of hundreds of millions

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A hefty cut in long-term care is canceled; the new purchase rates for healthcare institutions are “unlawful”, the court in The Hague ruled on Thursday. The ruling means that care offices are not allowed to apply an extra discount to the reimbursements, as long as there is no ‘proper investigation’ on the basis of this.

Care offices reimburse the costs of long-term care on behalf of the health insurers, often for elderly people with advanced dementia or people with a serious mental, physical or sensory disability. From next year, the care offices wanted to reduce the reimbursement for care to 94 percent of the maximum rate as set by the Dutch Healthcare Authority. Up to and including this year, that fee was 96 percent. Healthcare institutions were able to recoup the missing 2 percent by making ‘efforts’ in the field of appropriate care (for clients with complex problems), innovation, business management or sustainability. A total of 68 healthcare institutions had started several preliminary relief proceedings in protest against the new rates.

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The decision of the court in The Hague probably makes plans for the new rates impossible. “There is a sigh of relief through all our institutions,” responds a spokesperson for the Association for the Disabled in the Netherlands, who had started a lawsuit on behalf of forty institutions. In the care of the disabled alone, the purchasing policy should have resulted in a cut of 150 million euros, according to the institutions, and the jobs of 3,600 employees became precarious. “This statement is of enormous significance to us.”

Lots of irritations

The care offices ‘regret’ that they have taken legal action against the institutions. They want to “learn from this process in order to be able to work together in the future towards good, accessible and affordable long-term care,” said a statement. “For the care offices, it is paramount that clients should not be the victims of this process.” The care offices do not yet know whether they will appeal. They do, however, think that the new policy had been ‘an important incentive’ for ‘necessary renewal of long-term care, which, among other things, due to aging, is linked to shortages in staff and capacity’.

The lawsuit was preceded by many irritations, says care manager Jan van Hoek of Ipse De Bruggen, an institution for disabled care with six thousand employees that also litigated. Van Hoek: “I am happy with the court’s decision, but it is sad that we needed a lawsuit to achieve this. At the beginning of the corona crisis, we were well helped by the care offices. All the greater was the setback when a unilateral dictation was subsequently imposed on us, an oekaze that touches the hearts of our clients. I hope that it will be possible to consult normally again. ”





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