Sun, Aug 09, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Insurance debt to be resolved

DEBTOR CITIES Taipei City accounts for more than half of the bad debt owed to the Bureau of National Health Insurance, to which the city owes NT$34.7 billion

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Executive Yuan spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said yesterday the long-standing controversy over the allocation of national health insurance premiums between the central government and local governments is expected to be resolved soon.

The controversy lies in different interpretations of Article 27 of the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) on a method for calculating insurance contributions.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Administrative Court handed down a final verdict against the Taipei City Government in a lawsuit challenging the central government’s interpretation that municipal governments must make partial payments for people who work in the city.

The Taipei City Government argued that it was not its responsibility to pay the insurance for people who work in the city but have their household residence registered outside the city.

Despite losing the lawsuit, the Taipei City Government has yet to repay NT$34.7 billion (US$1.06 billion) in debt, accumulated since 1999, when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), then-Taipei city mayor, launched the boycott.

Su said Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄) and Hsueh Hsiang-chuan (薛香川), Executive Yuan secretary-general, have talked the Taipei City Government into accepting a compromise deal.

Under the deal, the Taipei City Government will pay health insurance subsidies for people who work in Taipei and have registered as Taipei residents, while the central government will share half the subsidies for people who work in Taipei and are not registered as Taipei residents.

Since the national health insurance system was launched in March 1995, local governments have cited financial difficulties as an excuse for not paying the fees.

The Bureau of National Health Insurance said local governments had defaulted on NT$60.3 billion in debt as of last year.

The Executive Yuan is revising regulations on the allocation problem and improving the financial structure of local governments to resolve the issue, Su said.

On Thursday, Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) said he would prioritize the collection of National Health Insurance debt payments owed by local governments.

Among the 18 local governments that owe the Bureau of National Health Insurance the NT$60.3 billion in total debt, the Taipei City Government tops the list with NT$34.7 billion in debt.

Yang described the city government’s debt as the bureau’s biggest problem, saying: “The Taipei City Government must pay its debt or the National Health Insurance’s finances will collapse sooner or later.”

The Kaohsiung City Government came in second with NT$17.8 billion in debt, while the Taipei County Government ranked third with NT$4.3 billion.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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