November 5, 2015 / 6:14 PM / in 2 years

Finnish coalition partners clash over health care reform

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s center-right government faced possible collapse on Thursday after two of the coalition parties clashed over how to cut spending on healthcare services in the recession-mired country.

Finland's Finance Minister Alexander Stubb arrives at a euro zone finance ministers meeting on the situation in Greece in Brussels, Belgium, July 7, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

The three-party coalition, in power since May, had been due to outline on Thursday reform plans that are expected to cut healthcare costs by up to 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) over the long term, but they remain divided over how best to do it.

Finance Minister Alexander Stubb warned that the coalition could break apart if a compromise could not be found.

“If this is a question of being part of the coalition, as the prime minister has told our party, then we will have a party council meeting on Saturday to decide whether to leave the government,” he told reporters in parliament.

“But we want a solution, this is a huge reform.”

Prime Minister Juha Sipila and his Center party, which has rural roots, wants to divide the country into 18 regions where governmental bodies would decide on health care services.

Stubb’s National Coalition party favors a model of just five regions, arguing that a smaller number would ensure a more equal share of resources between the regions. It also says a larger number would threaten financial savings.

National Coalition has asked for a time-out on the issue and Sipila is expected to make a statement at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

The third coalition partner, the nationalist Finns Party, has accepted Sipila’s proposal. ($1 = 0.9200 euros)

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Gareth Jones

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