Premier outlines reforms to serve a healthy China

China will carry forward public hospital reform to optimize medical care resources for public health.

China will carry forward public hospital reform to optimize medical care resources for public health, according to a decision at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang yesterday.

The reform on medical care pricing at public hospitals will continue toward dynamic price adjustment of medical services to make the knowledge expertise and efforts of medical workers better reflected in values.

One or two cities in provincial regions where the comprehensive medical reforms are piloted will be chosen for medical insurance payment reform, which covers all medical care institutions and services.

The government will also designate over 100 disease categories for an insurance payment by-category reform.

“The medical care reform is not only a major project to better public well-being, but also a major economic measure,” Li said. The premier added that the public hospital reform should be pushed forward across the board and the reform on medical care partnerships should be piloted in multiple forms to better serve “Healthy China” with better and more convenient health care services.

China’s medical care reform should adhere to the principle of guaranteeing basic health care, building up working mechanisms and strengthening community health services, he said.

The country started its latest round of health care reform in 2009, making offering health care services to all people as a public good its core objective.

As of September, all public hospitals in China have joined the comprehensive reform program to end 60-year-old practice of drug price markups, which enables rationalization of medical care cost.

As the reform proceeds, the share of drug sales in the total revenues for hospitals dropped from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 38.1 percent in 2016.

Public hospitals, which totaled 12,708 by the end of 2016, provided 2.85 billion diagnosis and treatments last year, accounting for 87.2 percent of cases provided by all hospitals in China, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

The reform on the medication dispensing scheme will also be deepened as public hospitals will be encouraged to practice category-based pharmaceutical procurement.

Hospitals across different regions and different specialized hospitals will be encouraged to conduct procurement together.

The public hospital oversight mechanism will be reformed to better supervise the quality and safety of medical care, medical services and medical expenses. 

The number of hospital beds, construction standard and procurement of large medical equipment will undergo greater scrutiny.

“The medical care reform is still an ongoing reform, and these are progresses yet to be consolidated,” Li said.

“The government should provide due financial support. The reform on the remuneration mechanism of medical workers should get stronger support to provide them with more incentive.”

The meeting yesterday decided to speed up efforts to establish medical treatment partnerships, which promote effective cooperation and coordination between different types of medical institutions, including major hospitals and grassroots clinics.

All major public hospitals must take part in the development of such partnerships before the end of this month.

Regulations eased for drugs and medical devices

China will allow use of some drugs and medical devices based on approval by foreign regulators.

The step was one of a series announced yesterday by Chinese drug regulators to improve access to treatments and streamline the approval process.

Regulators want to improve access to “urgently needed drugs and medical devices,” the China Food and Drug Administration said.

“Regarding drugs and medical devices that already are approved to go on the market abroad, they will be allowed on the market with conditions attached,” the agency said.

Suppliers of drugs and devices such as X-ray machines have long looked at China as a promising market but complain that a cumbersome approval process hampers market access.

The administration also said yesterday that it would streamline the process for approving generic drugs.

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