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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 June 2 - 8  > Amid pandemic, bill to impose on elderly heavier medical burdens forcibly enacted
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2021 June 2 - 8 [POLITICS]

Amid pandemic, bill to impose on elderly heavier medical burdens forcibly enacted

June 5, 2021

A bill to require elderly people aged 75 and over to pay hospital medical expenses twice as much as at present was forcibly approved and enacted at the House of Councilors plenary session on June 4 with the majority vote of the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, the Nippon Ishin no Kai party, and the Democratic Party for the People.

The Japanese Communist Party and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan voted against the bill.

The new measure will increase out-of-pocket medical expenses for the elderly aged 75 and over from the current 10% to 20%. This measure will be applied to elderly individuals with an annual income of more than two million yen and elderly couples with an annual income of more than 3.2 million yen. The government estimates that with the introduction of this measure, the government’s medical spending would decrease by 105 billion yen annually because targeted elderly people may reduce the frequency of seeing doctors.

In discussions prior to the vote, JCP lawmaker Kurabayashi Akiko opposed the bill and referred to the government estimate. She criticized the bill for preventing the elderly from receiving proper medical care and for endangering their lives. Pointing out that it is obvious that the bill is designed only to slash the government’s expenditure for social welfare, the JCP lawmaker said, “The approval of the bill is unacceptable.”

Kurabayashi also pointed out that the government claims that the elderly’s burden of medical expenses should be based on their ability to pay. She said, “It is large corporations and the wealthy that the government should apply the ‘ability-to-pay’ principle to because they make huge monetary gains even amid the pandemic thanks to generous tax breaks and rising share prices. The government should impose on them a fair share of the tax burden and drastically improve social welfare services for all generations.”

Past related article:
> Suga gov’t imposes redoubled burden of medical payments on elderly amid coronavirus-crisis [December 11 & 13, 2020]
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