National

Abe-led government panel suggests reducing hospital beds to cut costs

JIJI

The number of beds at publicly and privately run hospitals across the nation should be reduced by some 130,000 as a measure to cut ballooning social security costs, according to a proposal by private-sector members of a key government panel.

The members of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made the proposal at the panel’s meeting Monday.

The number of people age 75 or over is expected to spike in fiscal 2025.

Members of the panel came up with the specific number of beds to cut in line with the community health care vision policy, in which the number of hospital beds necessary for each of the country’s 47 prefectures in 2025 is based on population estimates.

“It’s important to raise quality of life by wisely using limited resources,” Abe said at the meeting, calling for the promotion of social security reforms, including through the health care vision.

The panel members also proposed giving generous financial aid to private hospitals that work aggressively to reduce beds and take other reform measures, designating the next three years or so as an intensive period for revamping hospitals.

The suggestion to cut beds comes after the health ministry published in late September a list of 424 public hospitals for which discussions on consolidation and realignment are deemed necessary. They include hospitals run by local governments and the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Among other proposals from the private-sector members were a revision to medical service fees to incentivize innovative drug development, and strengthened financial support for local governments making efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and preventive medicine.

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