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Ginowan mayor proposing free hospital care for kids to age 15

Date Posted: 2007-09-07

Calling it fulfillment of a mayoral election campaign promise, Ginowan City’s mayor is heading to the City Assembly with a plan to make hospital care free for all children to age 15.

All municipalities within Okinawa Prefecture currently offer free hospital care to children ages four and under. Mayor Yoichi Iha says that’s not good enough, “because I want to support child care and prevent continuing the declining birth rate.” Iha says he wants to “make a better environment for young peoples’ safety and life.”

If the City Assembly approves Iha’s plan, Ginowan City would have the largest free hospital care program in the Prefecture. Iha wants the city to make its budget to accommodate the free care, but says he thinks the money can be recouped from health insurance benefits. He estimates hospital charges under his plan would run to ¥40 million ($357,150) a year, but thinks the city can recover even more, ¥50 million, in health benefit monies from the government.

The Assembly members will decide soon on the mayor’s proposal. If approved, citizens will be able to take their hospital receipts to the City Office and get their money back for children 15 and under.

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