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Reform Needs Public Insight
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The healthcare reform plan should be discussed widely for better results, says a commentary in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

A joint team formed by about a dozen State Council departments and co-chaired by the minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the health minister is now working on a new plan for healthcare reform. The NDRC also started a forum on its official website, inviting public suggestions for reform.

The just-concluded Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China focused on a series of issues for building a harmonious society, including improving healthcare, education and the social security system.

All this will set a base for pursuing equality for the healthcare reform plan that is being drafted.

Will the new plan satisfy the public's expectations? Joint efforts are now being made by all related departments, but more should be done to let the new plan reflect public opinions well.

The fact that more than a dozen departments are involved in the drafting work shows the importance attached to the reform. But some worry that the new plan will become a compromise of departmental interests and not necessarily realize the maximal interests of the public.

Hence, the discussion and drafting procedures should be improved. It is one of the topics that attract most public attention.

The healthcare system concerns everyone's long-term interest as well as social fairness and redistribution of public finance. Institutional channels should be established to let the public participate in the policy-making procedures. Public supervision is needed to prevent departmental interests from guiding the policy.

Policy-making procedures should be made transparent and open. All social groups should be able to express their opinions and appeals, and these opinions should have binding force on the draft of the reform plan. Hearings can be added besides opinion solicitation.

(China Daily October 12, 2006)

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