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Tokyo surrenders on much despised health program

Date Posted: 2008-09-26

A government plan to tax and charge elderly citizens for health care insurance is falling by the wayside.

The plan, which called for seniors 75 and older to be included in the insurance program introduced in April, will be dropped, says Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe. The insurance program covering more than 13 million Japanese was criticized for inflicting a heavy financial burden on low income, elderly citizens.

“It should be reviewed drastically,” Masuzoe said, lamenting the insurance program was well designed but not properly promoted to the public. Without public support, he said, it cannot succeed.

The election of Taro Aso as Prime Minister guaranteed the program’s demise. Aso had denounced the insurance plan, which saw insurance premiums even for seniors 75 and older, to be automatically deducted from their pension benefits.

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