Release of long-awaited health care proposals that would ask taxpayers for more money have been delayed again due to political sensitivities. The Green Paper would only be issued 'at the appropriate time', the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Yeoh Eng-kiong, said yesterday. Dr Yeoh presented the draft to Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang last week. Sources said the document could not be released this month as planned. It is understood the Government has reservations about putting forward the proposals now, for fear that politicians with their eye on September's Legislative Council elections would vote down any proposal to raise charges. 'Although we have come to a final stage and all the data are available now, the Government will choose an appropriate time to release [the paper],' Dr Yeoh said at the opening of the Hospital Authority Convention 2000 forum. 'I hope the public will be patient. The reform is a long-term issue,' he said. The Green Paper will propose a savings scheme under which everyone will have to save about one per cent of their income to pay for medical care in old age. Dr Yeoh said earlier that charges for public medical services, ranging from drugs to outpatient consultations, would be raised as a short-term financial measure. Political resistance was clear from a Legco motion in March. The council voted against imposing charges on public emergency rooms. Legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan of The Frontier said the Government was 'election-allergic'. 'If the Government introduces the reform now, it will become a subject of debate at election forums. And once public opinion [against a fee rise] is formed, it will be difficult to change.' The Dean of the Medical Faculty at Chinese University, Professor Sydney Chung Sheung-chee, said it would be wise for the Government to put off the matter until after the election. 'It would be poison for politicians to come out and vote for raising medical charges,' said Prof Chung. 'Putting forward the reforms now would lead to irrational discussion.' Under the reforms, officials plan to transfer the 64 government outpatient clinics from the Health Department to the Hospital Authority. To avoid drawing too many patients into the public sector, the clinics would be made available only to needy patients, including those receiving public security and people who were chronically ill. The release of the document has now been deferred several times. Health officials said last year it would be published during the first quarter of this year. It was then postponed to this month and is now delayed again.