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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 24 - 30  > Bill to impose further burden of nursing-care services on elderly enacted
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2017 May 24 - 30 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Bill to impose further burden of nursing-care services on elderly enacted

May 27, 2017
A bill to revise the nursing-care insurance program was enacted on May 26 at a House of Councilors plenary session with the majority support of the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties and the Nippon Ishin no Kai. The revision imposes an increase in nursing-care service charges to 30% from the current 20% on the elderly earning above designated amount of income.

The Japanese Communist, Democratic, Social Democratic, and Liberal parties together with the parliamentary group Okinawa Whirlwind opposed the bill.

According to the bill, from August 2018, the live-alone elderly whose annual income is more than 3.4 million yen and elderly couples who earn more than 4.63 million yen a year will have to pay 30% of charges for nursing care insurance-covered services they use.

In the question-answer session prior to the vote, JCP member of the House of Councilors Kurabayashi Akiko said that it is unacceptable for the government to raise the nursing-care burden to 30% without reviewing the impact the previous increase to 20% in 2015 has had.

The JCP lawmaker also criticized the bill for lacking sufficient measures to deal with worker shortages at nursing-care facilities and for being useless in solving the issue of workers who have to give up their jobs due to the need to take care of their aged parents.

Under the bill, people aged between 40 and 64 will have to pay the nursing-care insurance tax, which is currently levied on a per capita basis, in accordance with the amount of their annual income. The number of long-term care beds for seniors in hospitals will decrease to zero and sanatorium-like facilities will be constructed. However, public concern is increasing about the quality of service at those facilities as the nursing-care industry is struggling with chronic staff shortages.

JCP Kurabayashi noted that only 22 hours were spent to discuss the bill in the House of Representatives and only 16 hours in the House of Councilors. She demanded the continuation of Diet discussions on the bill.

Past related article:
> Bills stripping the elderly of access to necessary care rammed through Lower House [May 15 & 16, 2014]

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