Group wants assurance it will be heard on health bill

national June 20, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

THE PEOPLE Health Systems Movement (PHSM) will decide today if it will join the upcoming public consultation process for a key health bill.



The group’s decision will be based on a meeting with Dr Poldej Pinprateep, who heads the committee that has been gathering opinions on the National Health Security Bill. 

“We will not join the scheduled public consultation session if it is not going to allow us to fully express our views,” PHSM member Supatra Nacapew said yesterday. 

Her group is scheduled to attend the public consultation session tomorrow. 

The public consultation is one of the three methods used by the |committee to collect opinions. 

The other methods involve comments solicited via online channels and mail, and four |public hearings that concluded on Sunday. 

The bill will affect the country’s universal healthcare scheme, which currently covers about 48 million people. 

The biggest concern among opponents involves the fact that the bill will involve co-payments applied to the current universal healthcare scheme. 

Several opponents are also concerned about the bill’s proposed |representation of medical-service providers and other points. 

Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Sopon Mekthon said yesterday the current bill would be improved based on the opinions gathered. 

“I can assure you that the |proposed law will not hurt people’s rights to medical services. We only seek to improve management |efficiency,” he said. 

Sopon added that the separation of medical workers’ salaries from subsidies for people’s treatment, as proposed by the bill, would help |hospitals in less-populated provinces such as Sing Buri and Samut Songkhram. 

He downplayed criticism that the bill was designed to help his ministry take power from the National Health Security Office (NHSO), which has long managed the universal healthcare scheme. The ministry’s hospitals, meanwhile, have mainly implemented the scheme. 

“Don’t treat this issue like ‘they and us’. We all work for the benefit of people,” he said. 

Regarding plans to stop the NHSO from procuring drugs and medical devices for distribution to hospitals, Sopon said procurement could be done jointly.

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