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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 November 7 - 13  > Fund people on welfare for advanced medical treatments: JCP Takahashi
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2012 November 7 - 13 [WELFARE]

Fund people on welfare for advanced medical treatments: JCP Takahashi

October 29 and November 8, 2012
Japanese Communist Party Lower House member Takahashi Chizuko on November 7 urged the government to provide medical assistance to livelihood protection benefits recipients so that they can receive advanced medical treatments.

Advanced medical treatments are not covered by health insurance, but fees for examination and hospitalization associated with them are eligible for the insurance coverage. The government in July approved the blood patch (BP) treatment for cerebrospinal fluid hypovolemia syndrome (CHS) to be covered by the combination of patients’ out-of-pocket medical expenses and medical insurance.

However, it has come to light that people living under the public livelihood protection assistance cannot receive medical aid for advanced treatments. They are entitled to receive aid only for regular medical care.

Orita Yoko, a 37-year-old resident in Akashi City (Hyogo Pref.), has been suffering from CHS since she was injured in a car accident five years ago.

While she was planning to receive the BP treatment in October, a welfare office told her 10 days before her hospitalization that she has to pay the total medical costs of about 200,000 yen for the treatment.

For a four-night hospitalization, Orita was saving up 31,000 yen to pay for the BP treatment by herself and counting on medical aid to cover the other medical costs.

A Health Ministry person explained that medical aid for livelihood protection recipients is available only for insurance-covered treatment options and not for medical procedures associated with advanced medical treatment.

He stated that in order for medical aid to be provided for advanced treatment, the following three criteria must be met: the treatment is directly related to the maintenance of the patient’s life; there is no other treatment option; and the treatment is not for research.

At the November 7 Lower House health committee meeting, Takahashi criticized the Health Ministry for setting such criteria, and said, “Do you think that such standards meet the constitutional ‘minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living’?”

In answer to Takahashi, Vice Health Minister Sakurai Mitsuru promised to reconsider the conditions.
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