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Health policy questions hang over Dutch elections

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(Bloomberg) — Geert Wilders’s anti-European Union Freedom Party may have suffered a setback in yesterday’s European Parliament elections in the Netherlands.

The results won’t be available until Sunday. News organizations are debating what exit polls say about the performance of Wilders’ party and other parties.

The Dutch Geenstij news site says Wilders’ controversial party may have come in second. But a poll conducted for NOS, a Dutch television network, found that the Freedom Party came in fourth.

The Freedom Party, the Christian Democratic Alliance and the Socialist parties all oppose Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition.

Rutte’s coalition has been continuing to lose popularity after announcing cuts in health care spending and changes to the pension system and the housing market system.

Wilders and his party take tough stands on immigrants and immigrants. Opponents describe them as being far to the right of mainstream voters. 

Inside the Netherlands, Wilders has backed generous government spending on long-term care (LTC) facilities and acute health insurance programs.

Before 2006, the Netherlands provided universal, government-run health care for low-income residents. High-income residents had to buy private insurance.

In 2006, the Netherlands moved to a system that, in many ways, is similar to the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) qualified health plan system. 

Dutch health insurers must sell private coverage on a guaranteed-issue, community-rated basis,  according to a Heritage Foundation analysis of the Dutch health finance system. The government provides premium subsidies for low-income consumers, and it runs risk-adjustment programs to protect health insurers against antiselection.

Many Dutch voters think the new system has increased their out-of-pocket health care costs, and they fear that future changes could reduce access to high-quality care.

Anouk van Groningen, a 23-year-old security guard from Zwaag in North Holland, said she decided to vote for the Freedom Party for domestic-policy reasons.

“The Freedom Party wants to abolish taxes for dogs and wants to keep care homes for the elderly people,” she said in an interview.

–With assistance from Fred Pals in Amsterdam and Allison Bell in New York.

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