High fees attributed to graft

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-14 07:09

Rampant corruption is behind soaring medical fees, a leading anti-corruption official said yesterday.

High fees and difficulties in getting medical care are a growing concern among from common people in China.

"Malpractice in the purchase and distribution of drugs and in providing medical services is one of the important reasons behind this," Qu Wanxiang, deputy minister of supervision, told a press conference yesterday.

Arrangements of money for drug procurement and better medical services are the common forms of malpractice in the field.

To curb the trend of corruption in the medical field, Qu said, it is vital to strengthen the management of hospitals by stressing good morals and ethics for doctors.

Qu said that open and transparent hospitals with reasonable medical checks, therapy and charges should be set up.

"Improper economic incentive mechanisms of some hospitals should be reformed and the inclination to pursue economic benefits should be redressed," he said.

Qu said that the government would promote unified online bidding for medical procurement with certain upper price limits.

The government will also regulate the pricing process of medicine and gradually set the prices for all the OTC medicines.

Qu also pledged to tighten the screening system for the approval of new drugs.

The remarks came in the wake of the downfall of former State Food and Drug Administration (SFDC) chief Zheng Xiaoyu last December for allegedly abusing his power by taking bribes.

A slew of his former subordinates were implicated in Zheng's case.

Qu also ordered a crackdown on commercial bribery in the medical field in the future.

Gan Yisheng, deputy secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), said that China dealt with 4,681 violations of the law in distributing drugs and providing medical services, involving 202 million yuan ($26 million).

Last year, the country investigated 10,883 cases of commercial bribery, involving a total of 3.766 billion yuan ($485 million), Gan said.

In another development, Gan also denied media reports that Chen Liangyu, former Party secretary of Shanghai, has a huge stock portfolio of 300 million yuan ($38.6 million).

Chen was sacked last September and is under investigation for his alleged involvement in a multi-billion social security fund scandal.

Media reports have indicated that investigators are focusing on Chen's stock portfolio, reportedly now worth about 300 million yuan thanks to the recent bull stock market on the mainland.

Gan said the report is totally "groundless."

Without elaborating, Gan said that the investigation of Chen's case is "going smoothly" and the results will be announced once it is complete.

Gan also said that Qiu Xiaohua, the former National Bureau of Statistics chief who was removed for corruption last October, had been turned over to judicial organs.

(China Daily 02/14/2007 page4)

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