As a result of its discussions on 5 July 2017, the Government decided to continue the health, social services and regional government reform so that the reform will enter into force on 1 January 2020. County elections will be held in October 2018.
Legislative proposals under consideration in Parliament will be amended in accordance with the statement issued by the Constitutional Law Committee on 29 June 2017. As regards the Act on Freedom of Choice, the Government will issue a new government proposal in early 2018. Based on ministries replies, the Act on Organising Health and Social Services and the Counties Act, that are currently under consideration in Parliament, will be amended in parliamentary committees to meet the changes required by the Constitutional Law Committee. The legislative proposals on health, social services and regional government reform will not be opened in any other respect. In accordance with the Constitutional Law Committee’s proposal, the Counties Act, the Act on Organising Health and Social Services, and the Act on Freedom of Choice will be considered in Parliament in the same connection.
The Constitutional Law Committee does not find fundamental problems with the key elements of the health and social services reform relating to freedom of choice and the organisation and financing of services by the counties. There were also no serious problems with regard to the means of implementing freedom of choice, including health and social services centres, oral health services units, health and social services vouchers and personal budgets. However, the Constitutional Law Committee proposes several justified changes to them. Trials and pilot projects relating to freedom of choice will be advanced.
The preparation of the new legislative proposal for the Act on Freedom of Choice will be carried out as part of official duties only, and in line with the attached timetable. Public officials will prepare a comprehensive proposal for the Act on Freedom of Choice and it will then be considered by the reform group as a single package.
Tuomas Pöysti, Government's Programme Lead, Permanent State Under-Secretary, tel. +358 2951 63012, tuomas.poysti(at)vm.fi