Wed, Jan 05, 2011 - Page 1 News List

KMT caucus passes amendment to NHI

WALKOUT:DPP lawmakers called for a walkout from the article-by-article vote after the KMT-dominated legislature rejected its proposal to base fees on household incomes

By Flora Wang and Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporters

Ker said that after lawmakers rejected the first proposal, the government should have taken it back to make major revisions before re-submitting it to the legislature.

Instead, he said, what government agencies did was make “a few small tweaks” before returning it for a vote.

“The DPP had no choice but to reject this,” he said after approval of the article-by-article vote in which KMT lawmakers agreed to revise Article 10, which deals with the eligibility of those enrolled in the system that is compulsory for most Taiwanese.

After the DPP walkout, DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) stayed behind and demanded a vote and re-vote on every article of the KMT’s version. The marathon vote and re-vote on all 106 articles began at 10am and did not pass the third reading until about 8pm.

Yaung told a press conference afterward that the premium rate was expected to be lowered from 5.17 percent to 4.91 percent.

Yaung said about 83 percent of residents would see a lower insurance fee, while insurance fees for between 16 and 17 percent of the population would remain unchanged.

KMT legislators said their version was “the most feasible for the time being.”

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said the amendment was expected to lower insurance fees for the economically disadvantaged.

Yesterday’s denouement brought to an end long, torturous efforts to salvage the debt-ridden NHI system.

The DOH late last year had proposed to reform the current NHI premium scheme by using an individual’s household income as a calculation mechanism.

However, that proposal failed to clear the legislative floor on Dec. 7, even though a majority of lawmakers agreed with the mechanism.

Some lawmakers had concerns over the proposal, saying it would set premiums for housewives and the unemployed by assuming a “virtual” monthly income of NT$17,280, a scheme they said did not reflect reality and could hurt the economically disadvantaged.

Some KMT legislators had feared the version could cost the party the next legislative election.

The DOH and the KMT caucus went back to the drawing board and eventually proposed a revised version, abandoning the household income plan and retaining the current premium calculation mechanism and including extra income in the calculation.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN

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