Give up policy of discouraging people from visiting doctors: JCP Shii to
Prime Minister

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo used this year's last
one-on-one debate with Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro on December 5 to
demand that the government withdraw its plan of increasing patients' burdens
to discourage them from using medical services.

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro in reply said, "Low financial hurdles
tempt healthy people to visit hospitals," trying to justify the government
plan to increase the insured patients' medical costs for salaried workers
from the present 20 percent to 30 percent.

Using charts, Shii pointed out that since the percentage was increased to
20 percent in 1997 (when Koizumi was Health and Welfare minister), the
number of people who have health problems but do without visiting doctors
sharply increased, breaking the golden rule that early detection and early
treatment is the shortest and surest way to keep the people's health and
hold total medical costs low.

Shii made clear that in 1998 there were 2.8 million people who had some
medical complaints but did not visit doctors or hospitals.

The prime minister made the following out-of-context remark, "Illness
prevention is more important than medical treatment. Appropriate diet makes

JCP Chair Shii questioned the good of the insurance system if a salaried
worker who paid a lot for insurance premiums cannot use medical services
because of high costs. He demanded that the government cancel the plan for
adversely revising the health insurance system. He added that this can be
achieved by slashing wasteful public works projects to ensure funds for it.