The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

National Council Approves Weakened Cost Containment Package

The Swiss National Council has passed new measures to reduce the cost growth in the healthcare system, although the overall effect of the changes to the Health Insurance Act is unclear. The proposal of the Federal Council was weakened. Specifically, the second package of cost containment measures in the healthcare system is being discussed. Several points have already come into force. The Federal Council wants to use further potential for cost savings in the healthcare system without being able to quantify it. For example, the Federal Council proposes measures to reduce unnecessary treatments. Networks for coordinated care should be established and pharmacies should be given more competences to prevent expensive services by doctors. Confidential price models are also being discussed. The National Council unanimously adopted the proposal of the Federal Council. Two days after the renewed premium shock, everyone agreed that new recipes are needed to combat the constantly rising costs in the healthcare system. However, no one was completely satisfied with the package of measures proposed by the Federal Council, although it was intended to implement orders from Parliament and a broadly supported expert group. The National Council made various changes to the draft of the Federal Council. The most important change concerns coordinated care. The National Council agreed with the Federal Council that this should be promoted more strongly, but rejected the recognition of networks as service providers with 117 to 67 votes with 7 abstentions. Instead, the existing regulations should be adapted to enable better coordination. The National Council also spoke in principle for confidential price models for expensive drugs, but only under the condition that an independent body should report publicly on the implementation of the confidential price models. This should enable the number of these price models and their effectiveness and efficiency to be checked, while individual refunds can remain confidential. Pharmacists should also be able to bill more services to the health insurance company. The package also includes measures that will not have a direct cost reduction. For example, the National Council decided that no cost sharing should be charged from the beginning of the pregnancy. In addition, the analyses already carried out by midwives should be legally defined. During pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, midwives should also be able to apply medications without a doctor's prescription under certain conditions. The National Council also wants to equalize the digital insurance card with the physical card and thus promote digitization. In the overall vote, the National Council adopted the package of measures with 131 to 28 votes with 32 abstentions. The proposal and the three related motions will now go to the Council of States. Federal President and Health Minister Alain Berset reiterated that the Federal Council had exhausted all measures within its competence. The Parliament must now decide on further measures.

©Keystone/SDA

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