Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Control Yuan says DOH ignored law

RESPONSE The DPP-party legislative caucus said that the National Insurance Law supersedes the legislation that regulates applicable government procedure

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Control Yuan yesterday proposed corrective measures against the Department of Health for inappropriate implementation of increases to national health insurance premiums and patients' co-payments.

"The Control Yuan investigation found that the health ministry must draft more complete procedures for implementing the price-hikes after consulting with the Ministry of Justice, the grand justices and scholars," said Control Yuan Member Chang Teh-ming (張德銘).

Chang referred to a compulsory procedure set down in the Central Administration Standards Law (中央法規標準法). The law stipulates that a copy of statute orders must be submitted to lawmakers after being approved by the Cabinet.

The copy, if confronting any objection from the legislature, may then become a legislative issue. With Cabinet approval, the DOH announced increases in health insurance premiums and patients' co-payments for medical costs last July and August. The price hikes bypassed the Central Administration Standards Law because the Executive Yuan said it believed that the DOH had some legal leeway to adjust payments within the national health insurance program.

The Control Yuan members warned yesterday that this kind of violation jeopardizes the power framework of the Constitution.

"The Control Yuan initiated an investigation because it is responsible for safeguarding checks and balances as stipulated by the Constitution," Chang told a news briefing yesterday afternoon. The Control Yuan ordered the administrate branch of government to follow procedure and forward a detailed copy of the price modifications to the Legislative Yuan.

Wrangling over prices between the two branches of government is not a matter of maintaining constitutional integrity and therefore does not require Control Yuan interference, but when the any ministry disregards legislative authority, the Control Yuan has to step in, Chang said.

Chang initiated the investigation with his colleague Hsieh Ching-huei (謝慶輝), who proffered further information about the censure. Hsieh said that the final decision as to whether to halt the already implemented raises lies with the Legislative Yuan.

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) explicitly stated that the Executive Yuan will continue to implement the raises until further rulings can be finalized on the Control Yuan censure.

DPP legislative caucus convener Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) was sharply critical of the corrective measures and said that the party caucus was studying the possibility of filing for a constitutional interpretation.

The modifications were announced in accordance with laws since the National Health Insurance Law (全民健康保險法) granted the administrations a legislative authorization to modify payments within the health program, Chen said.

The party caucus is considering settling down the dispute through petitioning for a constitutional interpretation because the National Health Insurance Law may supersede the Central Administration Standards Law, he said.

The Control Yuan members emphasized that the corrective measures may serve to correct a long-standing conflict in statures.

"Both the KMT and DPP governments have failed time and time again to comply with laws" because it was unclear which law applies, Chang said.

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