Readers may remember that PPT posted on plans for the end to the 30 baht health scheme as part of an uprooting of the Thaksin regime. Back then, the Public health permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat said this was a beat up and that “denied it planned to ask the coup-makers to approve part payments under the scheme…”. No plans, he said.
Yet the junta keeps coming back to it, causing considerable concern and even the odd rally.
The Ministry of Public Health has a leadership that has long wanted to raise “co-payments” by exorbitant amounts.
Most recently, the People’s Health Systems Movement has rallied, arguing that the the draft National Health Security Bill “would affect the right of 48 million people to free healthcare.”
The Dictator has had to come out – we have lost count of how many times – to provide “an assurance that the government will not be cancelling the 30 baht health insurance scheme…”.
Then he said the junta “is considering ways to address funding and personnel problems, reminding citizens that reform of public health is on the national agenda.”
General Prayuth Chan-o-cha “confirmed the intention that all members of the public have ready access to public health services,” at least for the moment, and called for “the country [to] be immunized against foreign epidemics with strong controls along its borders.”
When he “called for an improvement to health systems for all Thais,” critics detect an intention to change the system.
He dismissed “claims that the government is cancelling its universal health scheme,” and said that the 30 baht scheme had to be “improved.”
“Improved” might mean “reformed.” So far, junta reform has been regressive.
Update: Prachatai reports that police and soldiers have prevented people “from joining a march in Bangkok protesting amendment to the National Health Security Act.” The People’s Health Systems Movement (PHSM) “staged a protest at the office of the United Nations in Bangkok demanding the junta cease efforts to amend the National Health Security Act….”. On 4 June plainclothes police visited PHSM member Rattana Thongngam at her home in Surin. She and friends went to Bangkok but others from “Surin and Buriram chose not to travel to Bangkok due to fears of further intimidation, after being visited by soldiers prohibiting them from joining the protest.” No protesters have been arrested to date.