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Government loses sick pay vote by slim margin

Government loses sick pay vote by slim margin

Published: 01 Jul 2011 14:54 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jul 2011 14:54 GMT+02:00

The Swedish government suffered another setback in the Riksdag on Friday, when the Sweden Democrats voted with the centre-left opposition to force through its proposal by a single vote.

“This is a very muddled decision made by the Riksdag, and the government will have to continue to work on the matter,” said Gunnar Axén, Moderate MP and chairman of the Riksdag committee on social insurance, to news agency TT.

The centre-left opposition’s proposal aims to fix the most “acute shortcomings” of the 2008 health insurance reforms implemented by the government.

The reforms were meant to address the problem of a spiralling sick leave rate among Sweden's generally healthy population, but since they came into effect they have been the subject of near constant criticism.

A change to the rules regulating sickness benefits resulted in a large number of people moving into work or training programmes and placed a limit on the time people could be off work on sick leave.

People who had been on state sick benefits for more than 180 days were duly forced to either apply for work or training, or to seek lower sick benefits from Sweden’s social insurance agency (Forsäkringskassan).

In April, the Swedish government proposed a number of changes to its reforms, admitting its current efforts had left some people in a jam.

But the opposition were not satisfied with the proposed changes.

They argue in their new proposal that people who have or have had time limited sickness compensation (sjukersättning) and who lack an income should be allowed to re-enter the insurance scheme so they can receive benefits in line with the level they had previously.

In addition, they wanted to put a stop to having people booted out of the insurance system altogether, although people who are receiving benefits should still have the right to partake in employment-reintroduction programmes without losing their benefits.

The centre-left also wanted to have the assessments of people's ability to work, which take place after 180 days, to be carried out in a way similar to the methods used prior to changes implemented in 2008.

However, according to Axén, the opposition’s proposals have not been properly researched. Speaking to the MPs, he stressed that not enough authorities had been asked to offer their counsel.

He also called the preparation of the proposal “deficient, if not non-existent” and said it had “made a mockery of the citizens”.

But the Riksdag went with the centre-left opposition’s line, with 140 votes in favour to 139 votes against.

Following the Riksdag's decision, many government agencies and other organisations affected by the result of the vote have declared themselves to be dissatisfied with the new proposal drafted by the opposition.

Sweden's Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) had both praise and blame for the changes, whereas the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen – LO) and the Swedish Rheumatism Association (Svenska Reumatikerförbundet) said that it was "a patchwork job" and that a complete overhaul is needed to change the system for the better.

The changes in the centre-left’s proposal are suggested to come into effect on January 1st 2012, together with the changes outlined by the government in April.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:08 July 1, 2011 by el dorado
Anyone know where we can see how each member voted?

What about the issue that Försäkringskassan has its own doctors who determine benefits, regardless of a patient's doctor's recommendations and without the Försäkringskassan doctor ever meeting or examining the patient?

Also with regard to private insurance, am I right in understanding that we in Sweden pay amongst the world's highest taxes, but then people buy additional insurance bc the health care system we've paid for doesn't do its job? Is this how it works? Do most people have additional insurance or not?
20:59 July 1, 2011 by Grokh
most didnt vote because they were on vacation.... pathetic.

if i wanted to pass a law to sell swedes to slavery id do it on the summer -_-x
23:24 July 1, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
The beagle Reinfeldt is paying the price for insulting, harassing, ignoring and atacking in everyway he could, Jimmy Åkeson. Jimmy

is laughing at Reinfeldt and enjoying his victory, because it was his victory and no one else.

Let us see if Mr. Beagle keeps on ignoring the Sweden Democrats. Let us see what the "professional" press secretary he has, Roberta Alenius, has to say about this, besides his heinous "No, no, no".
00:07 July 2, 2011 by The Grand Master
About ten seconds after the result of the last election was known the parties of the left were falling over themselves trying to tell everyone how they wouldn't work with the Swedish Democrats. Haha, unless of course it suited them. If they wanted to stick to their principles (what principles?), they would tell an equivilent number of their own members to abstain every time the Swedish Democrats were voting with the left.

That way they could always claim that they weren't letting the SD have any say over what was happening. But of course then the left wouldn't have got their way.

HYPOCRISY at it's worst.

More importantly, it's sunny and warm and no- one is playing cricket. What sort of backwards prehistoric country is this? I mean, no cricket-what the hell?
09:52 July 2, 2011 by RobinHood
It's never healthy for democracy when the far left and far right ally; especially a few months after the left promised Sweden, very clearly, they would never ally with the Sweden Democrats. As The Grand Master said, "HYPOCRACY at it's worst."

Such trashing of proud socialist values for short term expediency does not reflect well on the SD, Green and Left party leaders, or indeed any of the politicians who stood in solidarity with their comrades from the SD. They should spend their summer holidays reflecting on their socilaist values, and about what kind of people and politicians they really are; not much - in my opinion.

Is it good for Sweden to have such a shifty bunch of opportunists in government? Sweden deserves better.
10:26 July 3, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
I agree with RobinHood. Sweden deserves better, far much better, but, whom would be put in charge of the boat? Juholt? Reinfeldt again? Jimmy? Maud? All the Swedish politicians were elected by us buth they do not care about us. They care about going to Almedalen to be seen, to open their mouths before thinking and to come out with new ideas about how to get rid of Gadaffi, because how to improve the country, they have not the faintest idea.
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