Civic Groups Call for Health Surcharge on US Meat|健保會代表提案 籲對美豬牛徵"食安健康捐"

As the controversy continues, a proposal has been made to implement a food safety and health surcharge on imported American pork and beef. The National Health Insurance Committee will meet on Sept. 25 to discuss it.

American pork and 30-plus month beef containing leanness-enhancing agent Ractopamine will flood Taiwan's market starting next year. There has been a public outcry against the government's decision to lift the import ban on meat containing the substance, and many say the long-term impact of Ractopamine ingestion will create an even heavier burden on the flailing national health insurance system. Civic representatives are calling for a "food safety and health" surcharge on imported American meat that can be used to shore up the health insurance system. The National Health Insurance Committee will meet on the 25th to discuss the proposal.

If this food safety issue turns into health issues, ultimately this will lead to a sick population that will require even more medical care. This obviously means higher medical expenditures.

Consumer group representative and committee member Wu Jung-ta opposes this. Wu says a food safety and health surcharge differs from the tobacco health surcharge because people have the right to decide whether to smoke but the decision to lift the import ban was made unilaterally by the government. Wu also says taxing importers will inevitably result in higher prices and consumers will be the one to foot the bill.

Citizens have a passive role in this. They will be harmed without their knowledge. They are not being given the right to choose (what to eat). Therefore, a food safety and health surcharge would be extremely unfair to citizens.

The national health insurance system has been in the red for three years now, with total losses of NT$26.6 billion in 2019 and the reserve fund only able to sustain operations for less than six weeks. A premium hike at the end of the year therefore seems inevitable. The National Health Insurance Administration says it will respect the committee's decision and further discussions will be held after the meeting on the 25th.

明年起,含有「萊克多巴胺」的美國豬肉,以及30月齡以上的美國牛肉,都可合法進口來台,引發民眾食安疑慮,如果因此衍生疾病,恐怕成為健保負擔。衛福部健保委員會、有付費者代表提案,建議政府開徵「食安健康捐」,挹注健保安全準備金,而這也是「食安健康捐」、首度成為公部門的正式討論議案。

台灣社區醫院協會理事長 朱益宏表示:「如果是食安的問題,造成健康的疑慮,那最終會造成,因為吃了這些食物以後,老百姓比較容易生病。生病的結果,當然是到醫療機構去就醫嘛,那當然相對的,他就會增加醫療費用的支出。」

不過消基會代表、也是健保會委員之一的吳榮達,卻持反對意見,他認為食安健康捐不像菸品健康捐,有明確徵收對象,選擇抽菸與不抽菸,民眾有選擇權,但開放美豬美牛是政府決定,民眾只能概括承受,而且一旦對進口商徵稅,價格勢必提高,成本轉嫁給消費者,這也不公平。

消基會祕書長 吳榮達表示:「老百姓來講,他是一個被動、不知的情況之下受害的,他沒有一個選擇權的。所以這樣的課徵食品安全,這個食品安全捐的部分來講,我覺得這樣子的課徵,是對我們民眾來講,是不公平的。」

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