Nursing care bill expected to pass Lower House

A bill to create a nursing care insurance system for ailing elderly people is expected to pass the Lower House next week, a ruling party official said May 9.

The bill is supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, New Party Sakigake and the Democratic Party of Japan. Kanezo Muraoka, chairman of the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee, said that he and Hirotaka Akamatsu, his DPJ counterpart, agreed to make joint efforts to have the bill pass the House of Representatives by next week.

The DPJ is not now a party to talks being conducted by the LDP-led ruling bloc on reforming the health-insurance system because it suddenly changed its stance on a revised bill on the issue earlier this week. It is believed, however, that the LDP and DPJ hope ties will not be totally cut at a time when the political climate is uncertain.

But it remains to be seen if the bill will pass the House of Councilors within the current Diet session that ends June 18; the Upper House has already considered two other important health related bills — one examines a larger share of medical costs to be borne by the public, the other concerns organ transplants from brain-dead donors.