Namie to seek medical fee exemption for all residents

Kyodo

The municipal government of Namie, located near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, will request that the government exempt its residents from medical fees, senior officials from the town said Saturday.

“We will stress the importance of monitoring the long-term health of our residents” to the government, the officials said.

The move would make Namie the first municipality affected by the nuclear disaster to seek such an exemption for its residents, according to the officials.

“Our residents will be plagued by worries about their health in the wake of radiation exposure. It is necessary to provide them with permanent medical treatment,” one municipal official warned.

Namie’s local government is hoping seven neighboring municipalities will follow in its footsteps and also request medical fee exemptions for their residents, and the town of Futaba has already said it is willing to take part, according to the officials.

Namie will soon start distributing health handbooks to all of its residents so they can keep meticulous records of the results of health checks, including thyroid exams, to allow them to monitor their health over the long term.

The handbooks were apparently modeled on health books distributed to survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Those issued with hibakusha health books are exempt from medical fees in principle, and Namie will ask the government to set up a similar exemption program for the health handbooks its residents will receive.