Critics Attack Health Plan as Impenetrable

Critics have expressed concern over the complex terminology in the draft of the new health care reform plan, on which the government is soliciting public feedback, according to central and local media and online forums.

The new plan is open to public discussion and opinion. Since its release on Tuesday morning, news articles on health care reform have appeared in mainstream newspapers and netizens have expressed their opinions in online forums, Xinhua reports. By last night more than 1500 comments had been posted on the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) website in less than two days, according to Chengdu Business Daily.

Danwei‘s daily summary of front page stories reports that the draft plan for new health care reforms “calls for increased investment in public health services to ensure affordable medical services for all citizens.”

A number of issues including “Growing medical fees and a lack of access of affordable medical services, poor doctor-patient relationships and low medical insurance coverage” have been the focus of concerns for disgruntled Chinese people.

The government is aiming to address these issues by launching a new round of health care reform after soliciting public opinion. However, critics and netizens pointed out that the wording of the released draft contains a considerable amount of complex terminology which requires a set of “instructions.” CCTV newsman Bai Yansong said in an TV interview that apart from the complaints people had about the medical system in the past, they now have to face another issue: Trying to understand the newly released reform draft. “I am personally convinced that many people won’t be able to offer any opinions for the simple fact that they are not able to make sense of it”, Bai said. “The funny thing is that it’s impenetrable after putting all the Chinese characters together,” and the first reaction to solicitation would be “not understandable.” He also pointed out four flaws of the draft:

-too much medical terminology causing trouble for ordinary people
-twisted wording along with sentences with confusing punctuation
-dry and meaningless language
-too general and hollow due to its form of expression

Professor Liu Guoen from Peking University said it took him some effort to understand. The plan is a collaborative work of 16 different departments. “It tries to cover every single aspect of health care industry, resulting in a lack of focus in the reforms.” It needs to highlight the central issues of soaring medical fees and lacking of affordable services. Bai said that the current priority is to clarify the points through various media in an effort to make it comprehensible for ordinary people.

The response from NDRC is that “it’s well expected and very normal that ordinary people aren’t able to make sense of it,” Chengdu Business Daily reports. NDRC is planning to publish a friendlier version of questions and answers concerning central issues of the new reform after collecting the most frequently asked questions.

Also see from Xinhua

China’s policy makers may not have anticipated the strong feedback they have received from the public on the new health care reform plan was to make it legible.

“It’s too hard to understand. What is it about?” an anonymous netizen wrote on sina.com, commenting on the 13,000-word document, which opened to public debate on Tuesday.

“The plan should be comprehensible to the general public. Do you think farmers, who are in great need of medical help, could understand it and propose any suggestions?” Liu Zheng wrote on the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) website.

October 16, 2008 10:34 AM
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Categories: Politics, Society