Sun, Nov 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lai banks on sector to cut medical costs

EXPENSIVE TREATMENT:The premier said cancer medication cost the nation NT$32.2 billion last year, about 38 percent of treatment costs, and he hoped to bring this down

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Premier William Lai speaks at the Formosan Medical Association’s 110th annual conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said the he hopes the healthcare sector could cooperate with the government to enhance the nation’s long-term care services and the biotechnology industry, and to introduce more information technology to medical administration.

Lai made the remarks while delivering the opening speech of the two-day annual conference of the Formosan Medical Association.

The association is the oldest local medical group, having been established 115 years ago, and is dedicated to promoting medical education and enhancing medical research, Lai said, adding that this annual conference was its 110th, and local as well as overseas medical specialists were invited to attend.

In his speech, Lai briefly introduced the two main topics of this year’s conference: National Health Insurance (NHI) payment principles for cancer medication and food safety.

“Cancer has ranked No. 1 among the 10 leading causes of death in Taiwan for 35 consecutive years and approximately 650,000 people receive cancer treatment each year,” Lai said.

NHI expenditure on cancer treatments has increased from NT$60.7 billion (US$2.01 billion) in 2011 to NT$84.5 billion last year, while expenditure on cancer medication alone increased from NT$25.7 billion in 2012 to NT$32.2 billion last year — accounting for about 38 percent of the total cost of treatment, Lai said.

He said that this was not a small percentage and that he hoped to hear suggestions on the issue from the conference.

The “Five Links of Food Safety” program was initiated by President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to enhance the nation’s food safety management, Lai said while addressing the second theme, adding that the government is to increase the annual food safety budget to NT$5 billion next year, from NT$4.5 billion this year.

In addition, he said the government is encouraging the healthcare sector to cooperate to achieve improvements in three areas: the Long-term Care Services Program 2.0, the biotechnology industry and medical administration informatization.

The biotechnology industry is included in the government’s ”five plus two” innovative industries program, Lai said, adding that the Executive Yuan has amended the Act for the Development of Biotech and New Pharmaceutical Industry (生技新藥產業發展條例) to loosen the standards for high-risk medical equipment.

The government has also amended the Fundamental Science and Technology Act (科學技術基本法) to encourage academic researchers to apply their research results to the biotechnology industry, Lai said, adding that Academia Sinica’s National Biotechnology Research Park is expected to begin operation next year.

Finally, Lai said the government hopes to improve medical administration by introducing more technology and using information technology to reduce unnecessary healthcare expenditure and provide better healthcare to patients.

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