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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 17 - 23  > Abe gov't discourages municipalities' medical subsidy programs for children
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2019 July 17 - 23 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe gov't discourages municipalities' medical subsidy programs for children

July 19, 2019

The Abe government considers the declining birthrate to be a national crisis, but it penalizes municipalities which subsidize medical expenses for school children by cutting the share of the state contribution to the national healthcare insurance system.

According to an Akahata survey of 20 major cities in Japan, in the last two quarters of fiscal 2018, the cities of Sapporo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Sagamihara, Niigata, Sakai, and Kumamoto expanded their own medical expense subsidy programs for children. The cities of Kyoto, Shizuoka, and Hamamatsu will also improve their programs for children's healthcare this year.

On the other hand, the Abe government does not give support and instead imposes penalties on such local-level efforts. Unlike the central government, local municipalities, in response to residents' and parents' demands, work to ensure a childrearing environment without money worries. Today, more than 1,700 municipal authorities in Japan have some sort of medical subsidy program for preschool children.

Without financial aid for children's medical care, the patients' share of the medical cost burden will be 20% for preschool children and 30% for school-age children, the same as for adults.

The eligible age for subsidies varies depending on municipalities. The burden of medical fees at the hospital counter and the income limit also differ. Still, many families hesitate to take their children to a doctor for financial reasons.

The Japanese Communist Party proposes abolishing the central government's punitive action against the local efforts and providing free medical care as a national service for preschool children without household income limits. The JCP at the same time proposes further stepping up municipalities' original measures to subsidize children's medical costs.

The Association of Prefectural Governors also demands that the central government abandon penalties and create a uniform, nationwide medical expenses subsidy system.

Past related article:
> Stop penalizing municipalities for providing children’s free medical care: JCP Koike [April 15, 2015]
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