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Health Policy. 2006 May;76(3):320-33. Epub 2005 Aug 15.

The Norwegian hospital reform of 2002: central government takes over ownership of public hospitals.

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  • 1Health Organization Research Program (HORN), Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1089, Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway.


Starting in January 2002, the majority of the Norwegian Parliament transferred the ownership of all public hospitals from the county governments to the central state. This round of reforms represents the most recent attempt by the central government to resolve major problems in the Norwegian health care system. In this paper, we describe these reforms and the problems they are intended to remedy. We also indicate further proposals that we believe need to be accomplished to ensure that the reforms become successful. The main lesson to be learned from the Norwegian experiment is that central government involvement in local and county government decision-making can lead to ambiguous responsibilities and a lack of transparency. This appears to be particularly the case when central government involvement implies shared responsibilities for the financing of particular services.

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