Rival Parties Miles Apart on Medical Law Reform

Article excerpt

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) yesterday said it would push ahead with a law mandating the separation between the prescribing and dispensing of drugs from July 1 as planned.

The MDP urged the medical establishment to exercise restraint by halting the closure of medical practices.

The ruling party also reaffirmed its principle that it would come up with measures to amend the loopholes in the law following its implementation.

``Given the timing of the law, which will take effect in just 10 days, we have no choice but to go ahead with the medical reform,'' said MDP chief policymaker Lee Hai-chan, adding, ``Under no circumstances is the doctors' refusal to provide treatment acceptable.''

Lee emphasized the necessity for full implementation of the law. ``We plan to revise the law if and when there are problems once we carry it out.''

MDP spokesman Chung Dong-young also said the government would plug any loopholes while calling on doctors to conduct business as usual.

Chung said, ``Doctors employed extreme measures by taking the lives of the public hostage and the public will not buy the rationale of doctors.''

The opposition Grand National Party (GNP), however, argued that Health-Welfare Minister Cha Heung-bong should be sacked if he failed to brief the details of the controversial law to President Kim Dae-jung.

GNP spokesman Kwon Chul-hyun said in a statement, ``Preparations for the law, including medical costs and assessment of costs in prescribing medicines were not well in place. …