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Issue 631 05-08-2013
Summary: Organic Vegetable Delivery Boom, Rural Cooperative Medical System Bust and Excess Birth Fees.

Highlights from the EO print edition, No. 631, Aug 5, 2013

Organic Vegetable Delivery Sprouts in Large Cities
News, Page 1
~ Amid deteriorating food safety in recent years, many residents in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai are starting to get their groceries through organic vegetable delivery services instead of going to the supermarket.
~ This trend is helping many farms in suburban areas prosper and is even attracting foreign investment. The Japanese company Daichi wo Mamoru Kai (守护大地协会) has established a joint venture organic food service with a Chinese company in Beijing.
~ The founder of Daichi wo Mamoru Kai said that today's China is a lot like Japan some 30 years ago, when a similar food trust crisis prompted an organic vegetable industry to emerge.
~ However, not everyone can afford these services. The average cost of delivered organic vegetables is 23 yuan per day, whereas buying vegetables from a supermarket averages 7 to 10 yuan per day.
Original article: [Chinese]

Rural Cooperative Medical System Struggles to Reimburse Rural Residents
Nation, page 9
~ Zhang Luquan (张禄全), a rural resident of Deyang City (德阳市), Sichuan, was mired in a tug-of-war between Deyang People's Hospital and the new local rural cooperative medical system, for neither side wanted to pay his medical costs. The rural cooperative medical system was established in the city as a sort of government-run insurance system to relieve the burden of medical costs on rural residents. However, it's having trouble meeting its goals.
~ Many cases like Zhang's have occurred since June when Deyang People's Hospital said it would no longer pay for rural residents' medical costs. "Since early this year, our hospital has actually pre-paid new rural cooperative medical costs of over 8 million yuan," said Zeng Tao (曾涛), deputy president of Deyang People's Hospital. "We'd be dragged into heavy debt as costs mount."
~ However, the local rural cooperative system now has a deficit of over 200 million yuan, as was confirmed by Ye Chao (叶超), director of Jingyang district's (旌阳区) new rural cooperative system.
~ Since 2012, the rural cooperative system's reimbursement ratio has doubled. It now pays out up to 100,000 yuan of a rural patient's medical costs. Moreover, more rural residents have begun participating in the program, the reimbursement management has been lax and some rare and expensive medicines have been covered. The system's funding has not kept up with these increased costs.
~ The situation is similar in other parts of China. To address the rising costs, Shijiazhuang, Hebei has already raised the threshold for reimbursement from 1,500 to 2,000 yuan and lowered the reimbursement ratio from 15 to 10 percent.
~ Some central governmental departments have promoted reimbursing patients up to a fixed sum, rather than taking into account what their ailment is. Xu Yucai (徐毓才), deputy director of Shanyang County's (山阳县) Health Bureau in Shaanxi, says this is risky. "The ceiling [for reimbursements] has been constantly hit, and some local leaders have practically approved completely free medical care," Xu said.
~ Xu says that medical services in rural areas should be greatly enhanced so as to relieve the burden on the new rural cooperative medical system. "Medical service at grassroots levels is very weak," Xu said. "It has disproportionate resources and doctors [compared to cities], which can hardly meet the medical needs of rural residents."
~ Zhang Tianxu (张天旭), head of Jilin Province's Health and Medical Department, says, the most realistic solution is to lower the expenses of medical care and reduce the grey income of doctors.
Original article: [Chinese]

Medical Conferences: Academic Exchanges or Bribery?
Corporation, page 25
~ In the aftermath of the investigation of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the number of medical conferences sponsored by foreign pharmaceutical companies in China has dropped dramatically.
~ At these conferences, pharmaceutical companies invite medical professionals to picturesque holiday resorts, accommodate them in five-star hotels and send them expensive gifts. It's considered a good way to establish ties with doctors and increase sales. Often, the companies directly promote their medicines to doctors. It's estimated that GSK alone spent 80 million yuan per year on these seminars.
~ From the perspective of a doctor, participating in these conferences can help them network and possibly improve their chances of publishing articles in academic journals. This could eventually help them get a promotion at their hospital.
~ Most doctors do not consider these conferences bribes, but argue that the primary objective is academic exchange, with medicine advertising as a foot note.
~ A senior executive at a pharmaceutical company said that there is a lack of continuing education and regular academic exchange for Chinese doctors after medical school. Therefore, without these conferences, China's medical development would slow considerably and doctors wouldn't have access to current medical developments.
Original article: [Chinese]

Struggling County Levies Redundant "Excess Birth Fees"
Nation, page 12
~ Recently, a 33-year-old mother of two hanged herself after she was unable to pay fines for an "excess birth" and a "social upbringing fee" (社会抚养费) imposed by the Xiping County (西平县) government in Henan Province.
~ Although they had already paid 10,000 yuan in 2002 for giving birth to a second child, the woman's husband was recently told to pay another 40,000 yuan. A local official told the EO that they hadn't paid enough according to the new rules.
~ Under the new guidelines from the local government, all cadres and workers at local Communist Party and government organizations, enterprises and public institutions who've had more than one child since Jan 1, 2000 must pay tens of thousands of yuan in fines for each excess birth. "For those who already paid before 2000, there's no need to pay again," said the local official. "But a receipt should be demonstrated, otherwise it doesn't count."
~ However, those who've already paid say they never got any receipt for their fines. Those who paid before 2000 are having an especially difficult time finding any proof of payment.
~ The new fines seem to defy the administrative penalty law, which forbids repeated penalties for the same illegal activity. Xiping County Party Secretary Zhang Jinquan (张金泉) and County Head Nie Xiaoguang (聂晓光) declined to comment to the EO.
~ Currently Pingxi County's government has a weak financial outlook amid reduced wheat production. Several major construction projects have been halted due to funding shortages and middle school teachers have had their pay reduced. Locals say fines collected for illegal childbirths are being used as a way to make up for this budget shortfall.
Original article: [Chinese]

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