Wed, Dec 22, 2010 - Page 2 News List

NHI readings delayed to hold two public hearings

By Flora Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Legislators yesterday reached an agreement to delay the scheduled second and third reading of a proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) premium reform plan to hold public hearings to deliberate the proposal first.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said after a cross-party negotiation session that legislators agreed to deal with the bill once the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Department of Health (DOH) have held public hearings tomorrow and on Friday respectively to gauge public opinion of the proposed scheme.

The legislature would hold the second and third readings of the bill on Tuesday at the earliest if everything goes smoothly in the hearings, Wang said.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus had originally mobilized its members in case the legislature was to vote on the proposed scheme later yesterday.

An initial version of a reformed NHI plan proposed by the Cabinet failed to pass a second and third reading in the legislature on Dec. 7, forcing Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) to propose a new version, which he submitted to the legislature on Thursday last week.

Under the new version, an individual’s premium would be calculated based on interest income, share dividends, professional practice income and any cash awards that are four times more than a person’s salary.

The department’s previous proposal revolved around calculating premiums based on total -household income, rather an individual’s salary as is done at present.

DPP legislators, however, called the new version “unfair,” saying it failed to cap supplementary earnings and did not include pension funds and rent income as part of its income calculations.

Meanwhile, in other developments, the legislature yesterday passed an amendment to the Gender Equality in Employment Act (性別工作平等法), allowing women to take tocolysis leave and enjoy half their salary during the leave without it affecting their attendance record.

The amendment also grants all employees family care leave of up to seven days a year. Employers can choose not to pay employees for the time off, but employers are banned from denying workers the right to take the leave.

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