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Thu, Jun 01, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Insurance bureau aiming to escape mountain of debt

STAFF WRITER

Director-general of the Depart-ment of Health (DOH) Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) said yesterday he would try to solve the financial crisis of the national health insurance program by imposing a maximum budget payment system starting in 2002 and would eradicate the deficit in medicine expenditure within six months.

Lee, appearing at the Legislative Yuan to present a special report and answer legislators' interpellation, said the national health insurance program's financial problems are more serious than he had expected before taking office.

While the premiums on medical care will not be raised for the time being, Lee proposed to implement the maximum budget payment system to keep medical expenditures under control.

Under the system, a fixed amount of the government budget would be allocated to individual medical institutions.

The huge medicine expenditure deficit has been another major source of financial burden for the bureau.

Many hospitals have overcharged the bureau for medicine, requesting fee compensations at above-market prices.

To cut excessive medicine expenses, Lee said an investigation would be launched to determine reasonable prices for different medicines and price adjustments would be made to reflect changes in their cost.

Lee also said that the program would face a capital shortage as early as this month. Lee said he hoped the local governments would repay their debts to the bureau to help relieve financial pressure.

Official statistics indicate local governments owe the bureau NT$27.9 billion, which makes up the lion's share of the insurance program's deficit.

The Executive Yuan will hold a cross-ministerial meeting today to discuss the urgent repayment of health insurance debts from local governments.

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