JCP chair says government policy ruins public health

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo used the face-to-face debate with Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro on February 12 to demand a freeze on the planned increase in insured workers' share of medical costs to 30 percent from the present 20 percent. The new rate will come into effect on April 1st.

Displaying data, he pointed out that an increase in working people's burden will further discourage them from visiting doctors.

The prime minister only stated that necessary medical services will not be affected, and avoided answering the question if the increased burden will lead to a deterioration of public health or not.

Shii said that under the plan, insured workers will not visit hospitals until they become seriously ill, which in turn will increase the total medical cost. He added that the ability to maintain the present health insurance system will be endangered.

At a press conference later in the day, Shii commented on the prime minister's reply as a "waste of time to obscure the truth." He said that he hopes that the debate will help increase public pressure on the government to halt the plan to force people to pay more.

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Four opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, on February 12 jointly submitted to the House of Representatives a bill to freeze the increase of insured workers' payment of medical fees to 30 percent. (end)

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