The Alliance for Surveillance of the National Health Insurance said yesterday that it suspected financial problems of the National Insurance System were a result of illegal practices decided on in closed-door Department of Health (DOH) meetings and urged more transparency.
“The public is paying for the National Health Insurance [NHI], so of course it deserves to know how the money is spent,” Eva Teng (滕西華), spokeswoman for the group, said at a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.
“After he was inaugurated, the new DOH minister, Lin Fang-yue [林芳郁], said that the NHI needs reform — why not start with more transparency?” she said.
At the moment, several NHI committees — including the NHI Supervisory Committee and the NHI Medical Expenditure Negotiation Committee — categorize their meetings as “classified,” the group said.
“This makes the NHI decision-making process a bit of a mystery to the public,” Teng said. “[We’ve heard] that many committee members speak only for their own personal interests, not for the public.”
“For example, some medicines are proven to be ineffective, but are never removed from the NHI’s list because some committee members think they should remain so that manufacturers don’t lose out on business,” she told the news conference, adding that similar practices may have contributed to the NHI’s debt.
While it is not easy to remove ineffective medicines from the NHI list, it is equally hard to add new medicines to the list — and the process is equally non-transparent, she said.
“On average, it takes more than 30 months after sales start elsewhere before a new medicine is approved to be sold on the Taiwanese market — and names of review committee members are kept secret,” Teng said.
While lobbying for approval by drug manufacturers is legal and inevitable, “we want to know who these review committee members are so we can monitor whether there are illegal exchanges during the lobbying and reviewing process,” she said.
“The medical industry often claims that they lack resources and call for more NHI fees to cover the debts,” said alliance convener Son Yu-lian (孫友聯).
“But we will remain suspicious on the calls until all NHI decision-making processes are made public,” Son said.
FOSSIL CLUES: The bushfires resulted from a positive Indian Ocean dipole event, when the region east of the ocean becomes drier, professor Shen Chuan-chou said The bushfires that swept through Australia last year were connected to a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD), which is expected to become more frequent due to climate change, a geologist studying coral fossils said yesterday. National Taiwan University Department of Geosciences professor Shen Chuan-chou (沈川洲) since 2001 has been working with Australian and US researchers to study climate systems in the Indian Ocean. Led by Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences professor Nerilie Abram, the team published a paper on IOD in the journal Nature on March 9. The bushfires resulted from a positive IOD event, when the
Senior judges yesterday met to discuss the constitutionality of a law that makes adultery a criminal offense, before being ordered by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) to set a date for a constitutional interpretation within the next month. The judges met to discuss Article 239 of the Criminal Code on offenses against marriage and family, after 18 judges had called for a constitutional interpretation of the issue. Taipei District Court Judge Lin Meng-huang (林孟皇) said that while he had previously tried adultery cases and never questioned the law, his feelings changed when trying a case last year involving baseball star Wang
Instead of hating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), help change it, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, as he urged young people to join efforts to reform the party. As the nation marked Youth Day on Sunday, Chiang said in a Facebook post that he wanted to remind people that “the KMT used to be very young.” Now, when people think of the KMT, they equate it with older people, he wrote. “Even if [the KMT] is a 100-year-old party, it must maintain a young mentality, and understand what young people want and what they want the KMT to do,” Chiang wrote.
A survey has found that 37.3 percent of transgender people in the nation have experienced gender-related discrimination or bullying in the workplace, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said yesterday. The alliance’s survey showed that 55.41 percent of transgender people said that they had been afraid to use a public restroom, 18.53 percent had been harassed or attacked in public, while 15.83 percent had been afraid to ask a police officer or other professional for help. The survey, conducted from March 14 to Wednesday last week, was based on 518 valid responses from transgender people aged 14 to 78, the