Sun, Jan 09, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Health minister may be replaced at holiday: Wu

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Cabinet will undergo a minor personnel change either just before or just after the Lunar New Year holiday that begins on Feb. 2, according to Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義).

Wu made the comment in response to questions on who would succeed Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良), who tendered his resignation on Tuesday, soon after controversial legislation to reform the national health insurance system passed the legislature.

Wu said Yaung had agreed to stay until Jan. 31 and if Yaung could not be persuaded to stay by then, the government would need to have somebody ready to fill the vacancy.

Asked whether Yaung had recommended someone to take his place, Wu said Yaung had not, but instead offered an analysis of the situation. As for who the replacement might be, Wu said it was still being discussed.

Yaung said he offered his resignation to take the blame for failing to ease the premier’s concern about how the national health insurance program calculates and collects premiums.

Yaung’s office proposed to change the income on which premiums are assessed from the current calculations based on an individual’s salary to total household income, but the formula was rejected by lawmakers, who believed it would be too difficult to implement and create inequities.

After Yaung backed away from the household income formula, the new plan that was adopted set the premium rate at 4.91 percent of an individuals’ regular monthly salary, as opposed to the existing 5.17 percent rate.

However, under the new plan, other forms of income that were previously unaccounted for, such as dividends, interest and professional income, will also be taxed at a rate of 2 percent to generate more revenues.

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