Sat, Feb 05, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Hsieh seeks Wang's help with health reforms

Taipei , CNA

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) called yesterday for support from the Legislative Yuan for several proposed amendments aimed at saving the national health insurance program from bankruptcy.

Hsieh met with Legislative Yuan Speak Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to seek support for the proposed amendments to allow for transferring tobacco and liquor tax revenues to support the health insurance program.

Hsieh said that the program's reserve funds will run out by the end of next month and that the program is expected to be on the brink of collapse should no extra funds be injected after next month.

He noted that implementing a proposed second-generation health insurance program -- currently in the pipelines at the Department of Health (DOH) -- under which premiums would be calculated based on a person's total income as opposed to just their salary, also requires the legislature's support to be passed into law.

Under this proposal, premium ceilings would be adjusted upwardly, requiring that people with higher incomes share a greater burden in supporting the program.

Commenting on the proposed second-generation program, Wang said that it makes sense to him and that the issue can be brought to the legislature's floor for discussion.

The department said recently that it will adopt austerity measures to save the health insurance program from bankruptcy without raising premiums for a year or so.

DOH Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said the department will respect the consensus reached by participants at a public forum last month who rejected a proposed hike in health insurance premiums. He said the department will refrain from raising premiums this year.

Pointing out that there is room to reduce the program's costs by 5 percent to 10 percent through cost-saving measures and curbing waste, Chen said that if this can be achieved, the program should be able to continue operating for another year or so without an increase in premiums.

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