[EDITORIAL] Next Reform: Governance Methods

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[EDITORIAL] Next Reform: Governance Methods

The bankrupt national health insurance system is representative of the failures in governance caused by promoting an unreasonable policy. The government must take this opportunity to reflect on its overall management methods. In political circles, rumors of a cabinet reshuffle, including the dismissal of the health minister, are circulating. We believe that the order of the day is a cabinet reshuffle, followed by the president's apology to the public and the preparation of fundamental changes in the failed medical reform. The government must learn its lesson and reform itself.

Sound policies cannot be based on questionable justifications and slogans. Despite spiraling deficits in the health insurance programs, the government made the mistake of merging the workplace health insurance and regional health insurance plans. Then it raised insurance payments to doctors in the name of medical reform. The driving force behind the zeal to promote this plan whatever the cost was a campaign pledge in the last presidential election. Preoccupied with the promise of preventing drug misuse and abuse and lowering the cost burden on the general public, no attention was paid to other nagging questions. Civic groups' ear-pleasing slogans played a part as well. The president said it was his mistake to proceed, trusting reports that there would be no problems, but he needs to reflect on whether he created an inflexible climate in policy-making that prevents his subordinates from taking intransigent realities into account. The government might have overlooked loopholes, blinded by its own rhetoric in a drive to gain popularity. Similar methods are frequently found in the government's North Korea and economic policies.

The government must reflect on its mistake in turning a deaf ear to opposing opinions and criticism. A high-ranking official at the Ministry of Health and Welfare warned that the integration of two disparate insurance systems could not be successful, but his opinion was disregarded and he was fired. In the National Assembly, many lawmakers pointed out that the merger of the two insurance schemes and medical reform would exhaust the funds, but their worries were completely ignored and their voices were branded anti-reform. We believe things would not have deteriorated to this extent if the government had listened to the warnings of the dismissed official, humbly accepted internal and external criticism and worked hard to verify and shore up problem areas. History proves that leaders who hate criticism are given to self-righteousness, which leads to their ultimate downfall. The president must examine whether self-righteousness and pride are pervasive in his administration.

It is pathetic to watch leaders blame others after the ruinous state of the health care system came to light. The president said, "I am largely to blame," but when giving instructions to the prime minister, he said he was "deceived" by his subordinates. The prime minister scolded the Ministry of Health and Welfare "for its smug briefings." The ruling party lays the blame on the doorstep of the administration, while the Ministry of Health and Welfare bristles and claims that politicians, not they, initiated medical reform. With no one assuming responsibility, repair measures are likely to be makeshift. The management of the political scene is no different. In an interview with Monthly JoongAng, Christian leader Kang Won-yong warned about the president: "If he continues the same way, there is no hope and his failure will be obvious." A strong government pushes for carefully prepared policies based on reality and listens humbly to criticism.
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