Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) and Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) CEO Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) yesterday denied that there was a dispute between the central and local governments over the payment of BNHI debt.
Their comments came in response to a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language United Evening News that said a dispute over the Taipei City Government’s over NT$80 billion (US$2.42 billion) in accumulated health insurance fees debt could damage President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) bid for re-election.
The report said the bureau has asked the courts to seize land in the Nangang Software Park (南港軟體園區) as security against the unpaid debt.
“There’s no mixed messages between different teams or any disputes going on, as the article mentioned,” Chu said.
“Local development plans are important, but the NHI fund is also important. The central and local governments will negotiate to solve this problem,” he said.
The problems involve negotiations between governments, but insurance benefits would not be affected, Yeh said.
Yeh said that Premier Liu Chao-hsiuan (劉兆玄) had instructed the DOH to request that the Taipei City Government propose plots of land or other assets equal in value to the six plots of land in the Nangang (南港) district. This may so that the land, originally confiscated from the local government, could be returned to the local government to be developed, he said.
The DOH will also propose an amendment to the National Health Insurance Act (健保法), which would make the central government responsible for paying the NHI subsidy, instead of local governments as the law currently states.
The report indicated that the motion has created a direct challenge to Ma’s “I-Taiwan 12 projects” (愛台十二項建設), one of his major campaign promises, as the software park is the chosen base for implementation of his vision of “intelligent Taiwan (智慧台灣).”
The problem stems from Ma’s tenure as Taipei mayor, when the City Government decided not to pay the fees because it disagreed with the way the bureau calculated the city’s labor work force.