Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Deputy mayor rebuts health claim

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Deputy Mayor Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) yesterday denied he has shifted his viewpoints about the payment of health insurance subsidies. His denial came after he served as the right-hand man of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who refused to pay about NT$10.7 billion in health insurance subsidies to the Bureau of National Health In-surance (BNHI) since 1999.

Yeh, who served as the first president of the BNHI in 1995 and was credited with the success of the National Health Insurance system, yesterday held a news conference to rebut reporting by a local newspaper that Yeh's stance on the health insurance subsidies issue was different from that of Ma. Yeh vowed that he held the same viewpoint as the city government.

In the report, Yeh said that it was legitimate for the central government to ask local governments to cover the health insurance subsidies of people who worked in their cities. This was in opposition to Ma, who claimed that the local government has no obligation to pay extra bills for people who are registered Taipei residents.

In terms of the disputes over the health insurance debts, Ma and other city government officials have argued that it was unfair to expect the city to pay the bills of 3.58 million people who work in Taipei, when only 2.63 million of them live there. The city government held several public meetings to put this argument to Taipei residents.

The contention about the debts has been submitted to the Taipei High Administrative Court.

Yeh yesterday said it was true that it was legitimate for the central government to ask the Taipei City Government to pay the health insurance fees of people who worked in Taipei City, yet he thought it was "unreasonable."

He also stressed that he did not "change his mind after changing his office" in terms of the large amount of debts that the city government owed the BNHI.

"I never varied my opinions about the payment of the health insurance subsidies. I've been saying that the central government should pay the bills for the policy that it made," Yeh said

"The current regulation is unreasonable and it needs to be revised," he said.

In fact, after taking over the office of deputy mayor, Yeh said that his priority was to solve the disputes over the health insurance subsidies on behalf of the city government.

Yeh yesterday said that the dispute over how much money the city government had to pay has became a judicial question that is waiting to be settled and he had no comment on this aspect.

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