As part of a massive reshuffle plan, the State Council has proposed setting up a national commission that would promote people’s overall health and realign responsibility for healthcare.
A document outlining the plan was submitted by the State Council, the country’s Cabinet, on March 13 to the ongoing session of the 13th National People’s Congress for deliberation.
The institutional reform plan will promote the Healthy China initiative and ensure the delivery of comprehensive life cycle health services for the Chinese people, according to the document.
It said the proposed commission will be responsible for formulating national health policies, coordinating and advancing medical and healthcare reforms, establishing a national basic medicine system, and supervising and administering public health services, medicare, health emergencies and family planning services.
The commission will also draw up policies and action plans to cope with an aging population, including incorporating medicare into eldercare, the document said.
The current National Health and Family Planning Commission, as well as a leading group overseeing medical and healthcare reform under the State Council, would no longer exist if the reshuffle is approved.
Leadership in controlling tobacco and smoking under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control — universally viewed as an important public health tool — would fall to the new health commission.
The idea has been praised by many anti-smoking activists. Previously, smoking control work was under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversees the State Tobacco Monopoly Bureau.
Overall, the reshuffle would create a comprehensive health administration whose reach would include health maintenance and disease prevention, not just medical treatment, according to Liu Yuanli, dean of the Peking Union School of Public Health and head of the Chinese Aging Well Association.
In addition, health-enhancing tasks would be expanded under the new commission to cover all Chinese citizens throughout their entire lifetime, he added.
In another major health-related change, China plans to set up a State medical insurance administration directly under the State Council, according to the document describing the institutional reform plan.
The proposed administration would be responsible for formulating and ensuring the implementation of policies, plans and standards for medical insurance, maternity insurance and medical assistance.
According to the document, it would also handle medicare funds, improve the platform for transregional medical services and expense settlements, and organize various concerned parties to fix and adjust prices for drugs and medical services, among other things.