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Revision of medical reform bill considered

Posted October. 23, 2000 20:40,   


The government and the ruling party are positively considering a plan to revise the medical reform bill to enable the elderly to buy medication directly from both hospitals and pharmacies.

The Millennium Democratic Party held a meeting of its top executive members yesterday with the participation of Health and Welfare Minister Choi Sun-Jung, and discussed measures to reduce public inconvenience stemming from the medical reform program to divide the roles of doctors and pharmacists.

At the meeting, the government and ruling party officials decided to consider revising the reform bill to allow patients to buy most injections at hospitals directly.

Lee Hae-Chan, chairman of the policy-making committee of the party, said that the government and ruling party are also looking for ways to help the elderly get drugs with ease as they complain about the inconvenience that they have to visit several places to get medication. He said that options such as allowing them to get medication at hospitals or buying drugs at pharmacies without a doctor's prescription are to be considered.

The government and ruling party plan to set the lower limit of age for the elderly who will receive exceptions to the medical reform. But a party official said that if the limit is set at 65 too many people will be free from the reform, hinting that the age would go over 65.

In that case, the medical reform program will be optional for senior citizens. About the envisaged policy changes, government and party officials explained that they were designed to minimize public inconvenience from the reform. But critics say that the measures are aimed at soothing angry medical circles, who are boycotting the reform. They also denounced the changes as an act of virtually giving up the reform.

Earlier this year, when patients complained about emergency rooms which do not dispense drugs after 10 p.m., when all pharmacies close doors, the government made an exception and allowed emergency patients to get a day's dosage of drugs at night.

Yun Seung-Mo ysmo@donga.com