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Finnish parliament approves healthcare reform in bid to control costs

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By Reuters
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HELSINKI -The Finnish parliament approved on Wednesday a government proposal for legislation to reform the social and healthcare system, a tally of assembly members’ votes showed.

The decision marks a significant step towards reform which the government says will serve to both curb public spending and reduce Finland’s disparities in provision of healthcare and welfare benefits.

In a bid to boost the sector’s productivity, the legislation will shift governance over social services and healthcare from 309 cities and municipalities to 21 so-called welfare regions.

The decision, which passed by a margin of 105-77, was a victory for the centre-left coalition led by Social Democrat Prime Minister Sanna Marin after several failed attempts at reform by earlier governments.

The Finnish central bank has said that a failure to reform social services could become a strain on the country’s public finances amid a steadily ageing of the population.