Legislators working on the reform of the health insurance system confirmed Sept. 2 that they will draft a bill for protecting patients’ rights and submit it to the next regular Diet session, in January.

Representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party and its two non-Cabinet allies, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, also agreed to make an effort to set numerical targets for cost reduction so that the reform plan, which will be implemented in fiscal 2000, can actually rescue the troubled health insurance system.

Yuya Niwa, a LDP House of Representatives member and a former health and welfare minister, said however, that the details on what kind of targets can be set have yet to be worked out. Last Aug. 29, the three-party insurance reform panel agreed on a plan that would increase medical bills for the elderly and introduce mechanisms that oblige doctors to choose less expensive methods of treatment and provide patients with cheaper medicines.

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