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Taiwan lawmaker examines Japan's long-term care policies

2012/08/28 21:50:45

Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) Taiwan should try to learn from Japan's long-term care policies, said opposition Democratic Progressing Party legislator Liu Chien-kuo Tuesday after returning from a recent visit to Japan.

Liu, also with Wang Tsung-hsi, deputy director of the Department of Health's Bureau of Medical Affairs, met with Japanese health officials in Tokyo and visited senior care institutions and private and public health care centers for the disabled.

Taiwan's proposed "long-term care insurance" system is similar to Japan's, which was introduced in 2000, Liu said.

He said Japan's central and local governments are working closely together on social and medical development.

In contrast, Taiwan's central and local governments often find it difficult to work with each other, Liu said.

In cases where Taiwan's central government has the funds for projects, its execution skills are often weak, while the local governments that are capable of implementing plans often do not have the required finances, Liu said.

Japan's central government has delegated authority to the local governments, and people working in long term care have said there is no uneven distribution of resources, he said.

In Taiwan, people with special needs often find it very difficult to access medical care, but in Japan, medical home care has been in effect for more than 10 years, Liu said. For example, teams of dentists provide on-site services with the use of a mobile clinic, he said.

There are as many as 700,000 people in Taiwan who need such services but the long-term care act in Taiwan has not yet been passed, which means the country will pay a high price, Liu said.

Taiwan's Cabinet sent a long-term health insurance bill to the Legislature in March 2011, but the bill has not yet been passed.

In early July, civic groups questioned whether the timing was right to introduce such a bill and they voiced concern that it will put more strain on the existing medical system and on people's pockets.

Liu said he hopes to be able to hold discussions with officials of the Ministry of the Interior and the DOH on Japan's successful long-term health care system.

It is hoped that Taiwan can learn from Japan in the formulation of health care policies, he said.

(By Tseng Ying-yu and C.J. Lin)