Recently, the Straits Times reportedthat the healthcare policy changes announced by PM Lee Hsien Loong are “significant”. The newspaper said: “The extension ofMediShield into MediShield Life is tantamount to having a universalnational health insurance…” (emphasis added)$CUT$
The position change is indeedsignificant but for another reason. For decades, the Government hasinsisted that healthcare costs in Singapore must be primarily paidfor by the user and the user only. Mr Lee Kuan Yew said: “…nobodyderails the idea of having individual accounts for CPF and Medisave.Whatever you earn, it’s yours.”
Of course, PM Lee’s announcement ofMediShield Life does not mean that Singaporeans’ burden of paying forhealthcare will be eased (the details of the scheme have yet to beannounced) but it is interesting to see how the PAP is, at least,re-working its rhetoric.
So, why the change? Why after decadesof intransigence did the PAP finally relent to taking another look athealthcare financing?
The position switch came onlyafter the SDP launched our National Healthcare Plan in 2012. Sincethe launch, the SDP has repeatedly campaigned for our healthcaresystem to be made universal (see here,here,here,here,here,here,here and here.)
We had also promised to take ourmessage to the electorate at the next general elections and campaignon the need for a universal healthcare system.
That same year in December, HealthMinister Gan Kim Yong announced that there would be a review ofhealthcare costs. He followed up by saying in the Budget debate thisyear that the review “will involve fundamental shifts.”
It is important to point out this development because the SDP has been portrayed byour opponents as being confrontational and destructive. The change in the Government’s outlook in the healthcare debate demolishes such aportrayal.
It is significant that the PAP hasafter decades come round to the SDP’s idea that our healthcare system mustbe universal. In other words, the Singapore Democrats have been a constructiveopposition party helping to make life better for Singaporeans.
Without the SDP pushing, there is noimpetus for the PAP Government to change its approach towards healthcare.
We are working hard to be successful at the next polls so that we can push for a comprehensive revamp of ourhealthcare financing system, instead of the piecemeal changes that seem to be taking place.
There are also the other issues of housing andpopulation that need close scrutiny and constructive debate in Parliament. Our goal is to get into Parliament to expand the discussion and,through our alternative policies, make Singapore a happier and moresecure place to live in.
We continue to strive to be thecompetent, constructive and compassionate party worthy of the supportof our fellow citizens.
The SDP National Healthcare Plan: Caring for All Singaporeans is available for download here.