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[EDITORIALS]But Who Ordered Medical Reform?

May 18,2001
The Board of Audit and Inspection reportedly has concluded that working-level officials of the Ministry of Health and Welfare overlooked the convenience of patients and the nation's financial burden in the course of implementing the medical reform. Statistics and analytical data, the foundation for establishing any policy, were not properly prepared and the payment increases that the health insurance corporation paid hospitals were unreasonably high. Yet, lamentably, some officials of the ministry reported to their superiors that the reform was on the right track.

Public servants who have harmed the nation and the people should assume the responsibility. The Millennium Democratic Party and the Blue House reportedly plan to supplement the staffing of the Health and Welfare Ministry. The ministry's officials will bear not only the responsibility but also the criticism for poor performance.

Yet we should not use the conclusion of the Board of Audit and Inspection to accuse the Health and Welfare Ministry of sole responsibility for the failed reform. Medical reform was a pledge of the ruling party during the presidential election and its reformers took the lead. Under the circumstances, it would have been difficult for ministry officials to demur at the unreasonable reform measures. Members of the Blue House and the ruling party accused critics who said the policy was poorly prepared of being enemies of medical reform.

The special inspection of the Board of Audit and Inspection was not to find mistakes of the policymakers but evaluate the responsibilities of the working-level people implementing the policy. Therefore, the inspection clearly had a limit. We should listen to the ministry official who argued that the ministry, the Blue House, the ruling party, civic organizations, the Korea Medical Association and the Korea Pharmaceutical Association all share the responsibility.

The government should clearly identify policy missteps by forming a joint party-government investigative team and launching a parliamentary inspection. The government should never repeat such deplorable mistakes.



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