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  • Medical reform plan up for comment
  • CHINAS long-awaited health care reform plan, which aims at providing universal medical service to 1.3 billion people, was released yesterday for public debate. ...
  • 2008-10-16
  • CHINAS long-awaited health care reform plan, which aims at providing universal medical service to 1.3 billion people, was released yesterday for public debate.

     

    The country wants a health care system that covers all urban and rural residents by 2020. According to the plan, that care should be safe, effective, convenient and affordable.

     

    The plan breaks up the health care system into four departments: public health service, medical treatment, medical insurance and medicine supply.

     

    Medical reform has been deliberated by authorities since 2006.

     

    Growing public criticism of soaring medical fees, lack of access to affordable medical service, poor doctor-patient relationships and low medical insurance coverage compelled China to launch the new round of reforms.

     

    China once prided itself for its government sponsored socialized medicine system, in which most Chinese, including urban and rural residents, enjoyed low-priced medical service.

     

    However, when China began economic reforms in the early 1980s, the system was dismantled to ease government burdens and changed to a market-oriented health care system.

     

    Insufficient government funding resulted in deficits for public health institutions, thus opening doors for hospitals to generate their own revenue by raising fees and aggressively selling drugs.

     

    The reform plan clarifies governments responsibility by saying that it plays a dominant role in providing public health and basic medical service.

     

    Both central and local governments should increase health funding. The percentage of governments input in total health expenditure should be increased gradually so that the financial burden of individuals can be reduced, the draft said.

     

    The plan listed public health, rural areas, city community health services and basic medical insurance as four key areas for government investment.

     

    The plan also promised to tighten government control over medical fees in public hospitals and to set up a basic medicine system to quell public complaints of rising drug costs.

     

    The basic medicine system includes a catalogue of necessary drugs that would be produced and distributed under government control and supervision. Its goal is to ensure accessibility to a range of basic medicines and to prevent manufacturers and business people from circumventing existing price controls.

     

    The draft was formulated by a team of officials and experts from 16 departments, including the Ministry of Health and the National Development and Reform Commission.

     

    The draft will be open for public comment until Nov. 14. People can visit the Web site: shs.ndrc.gov.cn/yg to leave suggestions and comments. (Source: Xinhua)

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