Former minister of health Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) claimed on Saturday that Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) does not like him because of the role he played in increasing National Health Insurance (NHI) fees.
Yaung made the comments while attending a symposium, saying he proposed raising the premium rates for the NHI because of concerns that the system faced serious funding difficulties.
Yaung is reported to have said that Wu, who was premier at the time, disliked him for making the suggestion.
However, later reports said Yaung had changed his story and was now claiming that Wu had supported him.
Meanwhile, Wu answered questions from reporters about Yaung’s comments while attending the establishment ceremony for the Automobile Maintenance Association in Changhua.
“I truly admired Yaung and I was not opposed to raising the NHI premium rates, but I was of the opinion that the method of raising the funds had to be adjusted,” Wu said, adding that he proposed NHI premium rates should not be raised for 70 percent of people, but that those with higher incomes should pay higher premiums.
“I can’t ask poor people, who are unable to pay their NHI bills, to abstain from going to the doctor because they don’t have the money to,” Wu said.
“The adjustment of NHI premiums for everyone in the country had to be based on fairness,” he said, adding that he felt fairness was something the government owed the disadvantaged in society, even if it meant that it had to pay a larger subsidy.
The second-generation NHI premium rates adopted by the government also includes an additional insurance fees system, and no one protested or fought it, Wu said.
To ensure fairness and that people in the same pay-grade have the same rates, the additional insurance fees factored income outside of regular salaries into the calculation used to determine how much NHI premiums one has to pay.
“Good policies require appropriate methods of implementation and suitable timing to ensure they are enacted smoothly and I fully supported Yaung,” Wu said.
As proof of his support Wu recalled an instance when he rebutted comments made by opposition party legislators critical of Yaung over the issue in the legislature.
“Mr Yaung may sometimes think that other people do not like him, but as premier I had to be able to accept all members of the Cabinet and keep an open mind,” Wu said, adding that it fact he greatly respected Yaung and supported his work.
Also commenting on the rumors that his youngest son, Wu Tsu-chun (吳子均), was going out with socialite Carol Chien (錢德月), Wu Dun-yih said that kind of news was “desperate,” adding that it was “not appropriate” for the media to stoop so low as to fabricate stories.