Health reforms based on decisive timetable
I refer to your editorial 'Chronic indecision' (South China Morning Post, May 28), and wish to clarify that clear decisions have in fact been made on the implementation of various health-care reform measures, including those relating to the financing aspects.
Released in 1999, the Harvard Report had stimulated considerable public interest and discussions on the subject of health-care reform. On the basis of the feedback received, we subsequently proposed 11 strategic reform proposals for the three main pillars of our health-care system in the Consultation Document on Health Care Reform, which we released for public consultation in December 2000. Upon completion of the public consultation exercise, we reported back to the Health Services Panel of the Legislative Council in July 2001 and outlined the way forward.
Essentially, under an incremental approach, we are already formulating implementation plans for individual reform proposals. Those which received wide public support are being implemented first so that the public can see for themselves quickly the tangible benefits of the reform. For more complicated proposals, we are conducting further studies before consulting the public again at a later stage.
Insofar as the proposed medical saving scheme, namely, the Health Protection Account (HPA), is concerned, we are conducting detailed studies on the various aspects. Given the complexity of the subject, we anticipated, as stated in the consultation document, that it would require at least 18 months to complete the necessary indepth studies. Thereafter, another round of territory-wide public consultation will be conducted to inform the public of the details and obtain their feedback. As the HPA is intended to be a long-term financing proposal, we consider it prudent and apt to proceed step by step.
The other issue mentioned in your editorial concerns the introduction of fees for accident and emergency service at public hospitals. This forms part of our comprehensive review of fees structure in the public health-care sector. The review has been substantially completed and as announced on various occasions, we shall put forward our proposals to the Health Services Panel for a full discussion towards the end of this year.
We are committed to revamping our public-sector fees structure in order to better target our finite resources. Like other reform measures, we are taking the fee restructuring proposal forward in accordance with our timetable, hence there is no question of indecision on this important matter.
for Secretary for Health and Welfare