Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) yesterday defended his initiative to include Chinese students in the National Health Insurance (NHI) plan and stressed that the proposal did not represent the DPP’s position.
“It was only my personal opinion. I was not asked by anyone to submit the proposal,” Wu told a press conference in his office in Sinjhuang (新莊), New Taipei City (新北市).
The initiative has been widely covered by the media and has drawn mixed reviews from fellow DPP members as well as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Wu said he owed an apology to DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who said on Sunday that the proposal did not represent the party’s position, for rushing the proposal forward.
The initiative was formed from a human rights perspective in addition to his legal background as a former judge, Wu said.
“Taiwan is a great country established on the basis of human rights. If Chinese students, along with students from other countries, were included, it would mean that we treat Chinese students the same way we treat others,” Wu said.
The proposal was not intended to appeal to Beijing because Chinese students would have to pay a premium like everyone else and would not enjoy medical services for free, he said.
The lawmaker said he would discuss the proposal with fellow DPP lawmakers at a legislative caucus meeting before going any further.
DPP legislative caucus chief secretary Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) told a press conference that every lawmaker’s opinion would be respected, but that consensus would not be reached until after the new legislative session begins next month.
Several DPP members, including Central Executive Committee member Hong Chih-kun (洪智坤) and DPP supporters opposed the proposal, saying it would create problems with the distribution of social resources.
KMT spokesperson Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) yesterday said Su should “publicly and clearly explain the DPP’s official position on Wu’s proposal.”
“The KMT welcomes the DPP’s abandonment of its ‘anti-China’ ideology with open arms, but condemns the DPP’s irresponsibility if it tried to use the initiative as a tool to get a feel for public opinions,” Ma said.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Charng (高長) told a press conference organized by the KMT caucus that the ministry had held four joint meetings with the Ministry of Education and the Department of Health this year on the issue.
“The initial consensus was to include Chinese students in the [NHI] coverage,” he said.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) challenged the DPP to initiate an amendment to the Act Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) in the next legislative session to make the idea, which the KMT agrees with, a reality.
“The KMT has long held the position that there should be no difference in the treatment extended to foreign students and Chinese students,” Wu Yu-sheng said.
KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said Su should explain why the DPP had changed its stance on extending NHI coverage to Chinese students.