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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 February 24 - March 1  > Parents-doctors network calls for free medical service for children
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2016 February 24 - March 1 [WELFARE]

Parents-doctors network calls for free medical service for children

February 25 & 26, 2016
A national network of parents and insurance doctors made representations to the central government on February 24 and 25, seeking the creation of a system providing free medical care for children.

Mothers carrying small children on February 25 visited Kato Katsunobu, the Minister for Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens, to demand that a free healthcare program be nationally implemented for preschool children at the earliest possible date and that the program be eventually expanded to all children until they graduate from junior high school at the age of 15.

At present, many municipalities offer their own program waiving medical fees for children. However, the national government in retaliation reduces the amount of state subsidies for the national healthcare insurance system to these municipalities as a penalty for their compassion.

Representatives of the network demanded that the state immediately stop punishing municipalities offering free medical services.

Participants, who are from different municipalities, complained that children’s medical services vary depending on where they live. They said, “We want a universal free care service for children so that every child can have access to healthcare.”

On the previous day, they paid a visit to the Health and Welfare Ministry. A member of a women’s NGO said, “One in every six children are living in poverty. Due to the heavy burden of medical bills, there are cases where medicine prescribed for the youngest child is shared with older siblings.”

A participant who lives in a municipality where she can get a refund after paying medical bills at hospitals, said, “Some families hesitate to go to hospital for financial reasons when their children become sick.”

Those who took part in the 2-day action also included Dietmembers of the Japanese Communist Party, the leadership of the New Japan Women’s Association (NJWA or Shinfujin), and the president of the Japanese Medical and Dental Practitioners for Improvement of Medical Care (Hodanren).

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