Mon, Aug 13, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Give Chinese students NHI: DPP lawmaker

RIGHTS ISSUE?Proponents say they support the proposal out of humanitarian concern, but some within the DPP oppose it, and the KMT says the DPP has flip-flopped on students

By Chris Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporters

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker has proposed including Chinese students in Taiwan under National Health Insurance (NHI) coverage as the party strives to address basic human rights and to turn around its image of being “anti-China.”

DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) is considering proposing an amendment to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) to enforce a mandatory coverage of Chinese students who have enrolled in universities in Taiwan and have stayed in the country for more than six months, the Chinese-language China Times reported yesterday.

Under current law, NHI coverage for foreign workers and students with residence permits only applies to those who have stayed in Taiwan for more than six months. Chinese students, who cannot obtain residence permits, are not included.

DPP Department of China Affairs Director Honigmann Hong (洪財隆) said the party “welcomes the initiative, which is proposed out of humanitarian concerns.”

The DPP will officially announce its position on the issue after a comprehensive discussion among party members and the legislative caucus in the new session, which is still more than one month away, DPP spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) said.

There is not yet party consensus on the initiative.

Hong Chih-kun (洪智坤), a DPP Central Executive Committee member, said in a post on his Facebook page that health insurance coverage was not an “inherent right,” but a paid service.

The initiative should have been discussed and deliberated as an item of cross-strait negotiation, Hong said.

What should be discussed is the integration or mutual recognition of health insurance systems across the Taiwan Strait because more than 1 million Taiwanese residing in China are also in need of medical care, he said.

Hong said Wu’s initiative “has got the point wrong” and urged Wu to reconsider the proposal.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesperson Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) said the party welcomed the DPP’s proposal, as long as the DPP proposed the idea from the perspective of protecting the rights of Chinese students.

“However, if the DPP did so for political purposes, the party would only let Taiwanese people down,” she said.

Ma questioned the DPP’s stance on the policy of Chinese students in Taiwan, as the party had lashed out at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for damaging the rights of Taiwanese students when the president instructed the Ministry of Education to relax regulations to attract more Chinese students to Taiwan. Ma said the DPP was flip-flopping on cross-strait issues.

“The DPP criticized the government’s handling of the Chinese students policy, but now it claims it wants to defend the rights of Chinese students. The DPP’s flip-flop on cross-strait policies will probably confuse its supporters,” she said.

If the DPP plans to make adjustments to its cross-strait policies, it should not only discuss the inclusion of Chinese students in the health insurance program, but develop a more comprehensive policy on Chinese students, she said.

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