October 9, 2017 / 12:15 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Finnish govt agrees to amend key health reform bill

(Adds minister comments)

HELSINKI, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Finland’s government has agreed to demands by a parliamentary committee to amend its delayed health and local government reform bill which, once fully implemented, is expected to reduce annual costs by 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion).

The reforms are a cornerstone of the centre-right coalition’s plan to balance public finances after a decade of stagnation.

But a parliamentary committee said in June that some of the proposals to boost competition between public and private service providers breached the constitution.

“The government has agreed on the main principles and details of the law,” Annika Saarikko, Minister of Social Services, wrote in a blog post.

The bill will be finalised in the coming weeks, she said. Once signed off by the government, the bill will go to parliament. The government said in July that it expected the reforms to be implemented fully by January 2020, one year later than initially planned.

Under the proposed law, Finland will establish 18 new health care regions that will assume the provision of services from more than 300 local governments at present..

“As required by the constitution, the health care regions will not have an obligation to incorporate public services,” Saarikko wrote. ($1 = 0.8517 euros) (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Toby Chopra and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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