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Government approves the plan to reduce 750 billion yen in medical costs


The Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry on October 2 announced a plan to hold down medical costs through cuts in the number of hospital beds and enforcing shorter hospital stays.


The plan was based on the adverse medical reform that the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties railroaded through the Diet in 2006.


A government official says that the plan, if implemented, will cut the number of long-term care hospital beds by 120,000 in the next five years and encourage hospitals to make patientsf hospital stays as short as possible so that medical costs will be held down by 750 billion yen in five years.


Prefectural governments set their targets for reductions in the number of beds and a shorter average duration of hospital stays, and based on these numbers, the government drew up its national plan.


By the end of 2012, the total number of beds at health facilities in 44 prefectures (3 prefectures have not yet decided to implement the plan) will be reduced to 210,000 from 330,000 in 2006 (excluding rehabilitation facilities).


In 2005 at the meeting of the government Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, private-sector members, including the then Japan Business Federation Chair Okuda Hiroshi, called for cuts in the growth of medical expenditures so that they will not exceed the growth of the gross domestic product.


The Japanese Communist Party criticized this medical expenditures reduction plan that would force the general public to pay more, kick more patients out of hospitals, and leave many more people without needed medical attention.      

- Akahata, October 3, 2008  


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