Question on the Second Stage Public Consultation on Healthcare Reform in the Estimates of Expenditure 2011-12 by Hon KP Chan:
It is mentioned in Programme (1) of the Food and Health Bureau (Health Branch) that the Matters Requiring Special Attention in 2011-12 include analysing the views and suggestions received during the Second Stage Public Consultation on Healthcare Reform and considering the way forward for the proposed voluntary Health Protection Scheme. Will the Government advise the Committee on whether it will consider further injecting funds into the Scheme after the $50 billion fiscal reserve has been used up when considering the way forward for the Scheme?
Asked by: Hon. CHAN Kin-por
The second stage public consultation on healthcare reform ended on 7 January 2011. The Food and Health Bureau received over 500 submissions from members of the public and organisations in various sectors in response to the healthcare reform second stage consultation document “My Health, My Choice”. We have also commissioned opinion surveys and focus group studies on healthcare reform with a view to collating public views on specific issues concerning healthcare reform. We are now analysing the views of the public received and collated in the second stage consultation on healthcare reform. We will take into account the analysis in working out the way forward including any specific proposals to be taken forward.
Our tentative plan is to complete and publish the Report on Second Stage Public Consultation on Healthcare Reform and announce the way forward within 2011. The reports of completed surveys and studies will be released through the website of the Food and Health Bureau as and when ready together with the consultation report. The workload arising from the second stage public consultation including the analysis of views and formulation of report is being undertaken as part of the day-to-day operations of the Food and Health Bureau. We have no separate estimates on the expenditure and manpower required. Resources required for the implementation of any specific proposals for the way forward will be assessed in due course.
As stated in the healthcare reform second stage consultation document, the Government’s commitment to healthcare is set to continue to increase as we reform the healthcare system with a view to enhancing the long-term sustainability of the healthcare system as a whole. We will continue to uphold the public healthcare system as the safety net for the whole population, which is strongly supported by the public. The Government’s annual recurrent expenditure on health has increased from $30.5 billion in 2007-08 to $39.9 billion in 2011-12, with substantial increase in resources being allocated to improve public healthcare services. Many quarters of the community have also expressed support for reforming the private health insurance and healthcare sector with a view to improving the quality, transparency and affordability of its services. Many views expressed have emphasized the need to increase healthcare capacity and manpower supply and to strengthen the quality assurance and price competitiveness of private healthcare services.
The Financial Secretary has pledged to draw $50 billion from the fiscal reserves to assist the implementation of healthcare reform, after the implementation of supplementary financing arrangements after consultation, no matter what the final arrangements are, so as to help meet the challenge of healthcare to future public finances. During the second stage public consultation on healthcare reform, we have received different views on the use of the $50 billion earmarked in the fiscal reserve to support healthcare reform, in response to the various options to provide financial incentives for the supplementary financing proposals put forward for consultation. The use of the $50 billion earmarked in the fiscal reserve for implementing healthcare reform, and the possible provision of financial incentives for any supplementary financing proposals to be implemented, will be considered as part of the way forward of healthcare reform.