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Local JCP working for reduction in burden of national health insurance premium
In Osaka Prefecture, Moriguchi City is among the municipalities imposing on residents the highest rates of national health insurance premiums.
Faced with difficulties in paying the premium, a 50-year-old dry-cleaning shop owner in this city recently began to pay it in installments based on the advice of the Moriguchi City Democratic Traders and Producers Association (Minsho).
Living with his wife, mother, and two children, he paid 530,000 yen last year for the health insurance premium. With the payment of 80,000 yen for the nursing care insurance premium and 330,000 yen for the national pension premium, his social insurance premiums reached nearly 1 million yen, 40 percent of their annual income of 2.6 million yen. His family has to survive on about 1.6 million yen yearly, a little more than 100,000 yen a month.
Due to the high rate of national health insurance premiums, 27 percent of insured households in the city -- 9,150 out of 34,188 households -- have failed to pay them, far exceeding the national average of 19 percent.
In 2005, about 45,000 residents visited the municipal office to ask for a reduction in the burden or exemption of the payment.
In 1984, the national health insurance related laws were adversely revised, reducing the state share in the premiums from 49.8 to 34.5 percent. Many municipalities have shifted the increase of the burden onto residents.
Furthermore, the central government requires municipal governments to invalidate the health insurance cards of those who failed to pay the premiums and instead issue insurance certificates to them. Since holders of this certificate have to pay the full amount of medical expenses at hospitals, many patients refrained from visiting doctors.
The Moriguchi Council for Promotion of Social Security, a civic organization in which the Moriguchi Minsho is taking part, made representations to the city government and assembly, calling on them to avoid invalidating residentsf health insurance cards.
Each of four Japanese Communist Party City Assembly members have made efforts to help residents who have difficulties in paying the premiums to reduce them, exempt payments, or pay in installments.
The national health insurance system is a major issue in the Moriguchi City Assembly election to be held on April 22.
The Moriguchi Council for Promotion of Social Security submitted to the City Assembly in March a petition demanding that the city take measures to reduce the residential tax and the health insurance premiums that had been increased. This petition was disapproved by the majority vote of the Liberal Democratic, Democratic, Komei, and Social Democratic parties. It was only the JCP that supported it.
In this election campaign, the JCP candidates are calling on voters to make Moriguchi a city where every resident insured under the national health insurance can receive medical care without anxiety. - Akahata, April 13, 2007
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