Wed, Apr 28, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Groups call for caution on health plan

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Civic groups yesterday urged lawmakers to carefully inspect every article of the proposed second-generation health plan, rather than hold discussions on it behind closed doors during cross-party negotiations.

The National Health Insurance Civic Surveillance Alliance and several other NGOs held a joint press conference yesterday protesting the Executive Yuan's urgency in getting its version of the amendments to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) passed by the legislature. The groups said many parts of the act require discussion and the entire process should be transparent.

Amendments are scheduled to be discussed at the legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee meeting tomorrow but the alliance said it has received word that the Executive Yuan hopes to “breeze through” the first reading at the committee meeting while conducting the main discussions during cross-party negotiations, which are not open to the public.

“We are worried that [discussion of] the National Health Insurance Act will be rushed through committee examination,” said Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), convener of the alliance.

“Cross-party negotiations have always been criticized by civic groups as secretive operations that are not publicized nor transparent,” he said.

“The legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee should carefully inspect every article [of the proposed amendment]. In the event that there are disagreements, there should be public hearings to invite input from civic groups,” Son said.

The groups said that issues such as the process of drug price reporting, methods of calculating household income to determine premium rates, publicizing medical institutions’ financial reports and insurance compensation coverage are all worthy of careful and thorough discussion.

“We understand that lawmakers want a speedy passage [of the Act] so that it will not affect results of the upcoming elections,” said Tsai Wan-fen (蔡宛芬), secretary general of Taiwan Women's Link.

“However, the Act may be around for five to 10 years. Will we really be content with it if we hurry its passage?” she said.

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