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Premier praises cancellation of drug price markups

Updated: Oct 13,2017 8:02 AM

China’s medical reform has rationalized healthcare prices by ending the practice of price markups on drugs, Premier Li Keqiang said at the State Council executive meeting on Oct 9.

The Premier urged that the healthcare reform should be deepened to better protect people’s health.

By September 2017, drug price markups in all public hospitals had been canceled, which ended hospitals’ reliance on drug sales. In 2016, drug sales accounted for 38.1 percent of hospitals’ total revenue, a sharp fall from 46.3 percent in 2010. The proportion of people’s personal healthcare expenditure in total healthcare cost fell by over 10 percentage points from 2008 to 2016.

“We should not neglect these numbers. Only when people get support in healthcare and their expenses are reimbursed, they will feel safe to spend money,” he said.

Premier Li also said canceling price markups on drug can not only ease people’s burden, but also tackle problems such as misuse of antibiotics.

China has set up a healthcare network covering its entire 1.3 billion population, the biggest one in the world. All public hospitals in the country are implementing comprehensive reform.

Recently, The Lancet, a renowned magazine in the medical community, issued the Healthcare Access and Quality Index (1990-2015), recognizing China as one of the three countries that have made the most remarkable progress.

As for the decline of hospital revenue after removing medicine markups, Premier Li urged the National Health and Family Planning Commission to formulate a scheme to consolidate the achievements so far, and asked support from the central finance. “We should never let the people pay the cost”, he stressed.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security was ordered to expand the salary system reform for public hospitals, and establish a performance-based incentive mechanism, allowing public hospitals to have autonomy in personnel management.

“The two measures can further deepen the medical reform”, the Premier said, adding that medical partnerships should be promoted by reforming the medical system.

As of this September, nearly 90 percent of tertiary hospitals nationwide have jointed the pilot reform of medical partnership, and more than 80 percent of residents can reach hospital within 15 minutes.

Premier Li said that medical partnership can provide convenience for the people, and expand sources of cases for hospitals to accumulate experiences in treatment.

The initiative of “Internet Plus medical treatment” should be better used in solving medical problems. Meanwhile, efforts should also be made to promote new service models, including remote medical treatment, sharing of patient ID cards and treatment information among medical institutions, and family doctors.

These new models can provide convenience to the people and mobilize the enthusiasm of medical staff members with better use of high-quality medical resources, the Premier said.

“Medical reform is not only a major project in improving the livelihood of the people, but also a key economic move,” he said.