Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達), former president of Taipei Medical University, took up his new post as the head of the Department of Health yesterday, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of his predecessor following the passage of a controversial health reform plan last month.
“It is going to be an adventure for me,” Chiu said at a ceremony where he formally took over the post.
Though he said he was excited and ready for the challenge, the new minister expressed some unease over medical administration, a relatively new field for him.
The 61-year-old neurosurgeon served as president and professor at the university for many years and was best known to the public for promoting legislation on bicycle helmets, aimed at decreasing the number of brain injuries and accidental deaths on roads.
Chiu said his main focus would be to promote and execute the second-generation health plan, which was passed as an amendment to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健保法) by the legislature on Jan. 4.
He said his department would hold meetings around the country to help the public better understand the plan.
Chiu’s predecessor, Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良), resigned following a drawn-out process to pass a health reform plan aimed at stabilizing the national health insurance system’s finances.
Yaung came under fire when his original plan to charge premiums based on household income was rejected by the legislature, and once a compromise plan closer to the system currently in place was enacted, he opted to leave the government.
Chiu said that before implementing the new health plan, he would concentrate on preparations for the program, including holding cross-ministerial discussions to prevent possible problems between agencies in the future.
His other priorities, he said, would be to push for a long-term care plan for the elderly and to boost food safety.
Jack Lee (李允傑) assumed his post as head of the National Youth Commission yesterday, promising to play the role of a communicator and to learn more about how Taiwan’s young people think.
Lee, a professor at National Open University, succeeded Wang Yu-ting (王昱婷) at a ceremony overseen by Minister Without Portfolio Ovid Tseng (曾志朗).
Lee said his main tasks would be to address the needs of underprivileged youth, help young people find jobs, build up a social network and provide information on employment, study and leisure activities.
Lee said he intended to travel around Taiwan to talk to students at colleges and universities.