Government plans to delay passing medical-reform bill

The government and the three ruling parties are likely to give up trying to enact a bill to reform the nation’s medical insurance system during the current Diet session, government sources said Wednesday.

It will be the second key bill the coalition has not voted into law during the current session, which lasts until June 17, following one aimed at revising the police law.

The move is aimed at avoiding public opposition to changes in the system as well as clashes with opposition parties in the Diet over the legislation, analysts said.

There will not be enough time for lawmakers to discuss the bill if, as senior Diet members are hinting, a general election is held in late June, they said.

Opposition parties, which oppose the bill, are expected to criticize the ruling parties over the decision, saying it is merely an attempt to win votes in the election.

Some members of the ruling coalition are proposing that the bill be handled in a special Diet session after the election, government sources said.

If enacted, the bill would force people aged 70 or older to pay 10 percent of their medical costs.