Government defends policy to raise BPJS Kesehatan premiums amid backlash

first_imgTopics : The government has defended its decision to raise Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) premiums after concerns were raised that the move conflicted with a recent Supreme Court ruling and ignored the exacerbated financial struggles of low-income people during the pandemic.Finance Ministry budget director general Askolani said on Thursday that the policy aimed to improve the national healthcare system, adding that raising premiums would help the agency improve its services and standards amid mounting debts.“We respect the Supreme Court ruling, but we should understand that the policy will provide us with comprehensive health protection for the long-term,” Askolani told reporters during a livestreamed media briefing. “The government is doing its best to provide a sustainable healthcare system.” The government first raised BPJS Kesehatan premiums last year by around 100 percent, but the Supreme Court annulled the move in a judicial review ruling in March as it contradicted a number of prevailing laws.Read also: BPJS Kesehatan books deficit below 50% of 2019 projectionThe judicial review petition was filed late last year by individuals grouped in the Hemodialysis Patients Community, joining activists and members of the public who also protested against the increase, which they argued was too high.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo then issued on May 5 a Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 64/2020 on health insurance that will again increase the premium for first-class services to Rp 150,000 (US$10.11) per month per person from Rp 80,000 starting in July, as well as almost double the cost for second-class services from Rp 51,000 to Rp 100,000.center_img The government will increase the third-class service premium from Rp 25,000 to Rp 42,000 but will also increase its subsidies. Third-class participants would only need to pay Rp 25,000 this year and Rp 35,000 next year as the government is earmarking Rp 3.1 trillion to subsidize the hike.BPJS, which provides health coverage for over 223 million people, has been struggling with cash flow problems for years, regularly booking claims far exceeding the premiums it collects.BPJS president director Fachmi Idris said on Thursday that the new premiums would help the company repay liabilities that are already in default to hospitals and balance its financial position this year.The agency has carried over a total of Rp 15.5 trillion in missed payments from last year to this year, of which Rp 4.4 trillion remains unpaid, Fachmi said during the same briefing.“The new policy will help us settle the missed payments of 2019 and hospitals’ cashflow could improve,” Fachmi added.Read also: Jokowi raises BPJS Kesehatan premiums, againHowever, the government’s decision to raise premiums has raised eyebrows among lawmakers.“There is an ongoing crisis right now and many individuals have lost their jobs,” said Gerindra Party politician Obon Tabroni as quoted by “The public’s access to health care should not be made complicated with a hike. People are suffering.”Ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Ribka Tjiptaning added as quoted by Reuters: “This proves the government is insensitive. People are losing their jobs, yet they ask for higher BPJS premiums.”last_img read more

South Korea says it is battling ‘second wave’ of coronavirus

first_imgHealth authorities in South Korea said for the first time on Monday it is in the midst of a “second wave” of novel coronavirus infections focused around its densely populated capital, stemming from a holiday in May.The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) had previously said South Korea’s first wave had never really ended.But on Monday, KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said it had become clear that a holiday weekend in early May marked the beginning of a new wave of infections focused in the greater Seoul area, which had previously seen few cases. “In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April as well as February to March,” Jeong said at a regular briefing. “Then we see that the second wave which was triggered by the May holiday has been going on.”At the end of February, South Korea reported a peak of more than 900 cases in a day, in the first large outbreak of the coronavirus outside of China.An intensive tracking and testing campaign reduced the numbers to single digits by late April.But just as the country announced it would be easing social distancing guidelines in early May, new cases spiked, driven in part by infections among young people who visited nightclubs and bars in Seoul over the holiday weekend. “We originally predicted that the second wave would emerge in fall or winter,” Jeong said. “Our forecast turned out to be wrong. As long as people have close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue.”As of midnight Sunday, South Korea reported 17 new coronavirus cases, the first time in nearly a month that daily new cases had dropped below 20. It was a drop from the 48 and 67 cases reported in the previous two days.South Korea has reported a total of 12,438 cases, with 280 deaths.While Jeong called for vigilance, she also said that as long as people maintain two-meter spacing, they may take off masks in certain circumstances in hot weathercenter_img Topics :last_img read more

Approval of Trump’s coronavirus response sinks to lowest on record amid surge in cases

first_imgTopics : Cases have jumped by 25% nationally, according to the latest seven-day tally, led by spikes in a number of states such as Texas, Arizona and Florida that have been more lenient about social distancing.Trump has steadily bled support among a broad swath of voters since March. Americans are increasingly critical of his response to the pandemic and a wave of protests in the aftermath of the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.Members of Trump’s Republican Party also appeared to be more pessimistic than at any other time during his presidency. Just 43% said they thought the country was headed in the “right direction,” the lowest level recorded by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since Trump entered office in January 2017.Trump has faced an unusual outpouring of criticism from members of the military establishment such as James Mattis, his first defense secretary, over his militarized response to the protests. Most recently, Bolton said Trump was unfit to be president and accused him in his new book of routinely obstructing justice.Fifty-eight percent of Americans – 81% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans – said they would like to see Bolton testify under oath about his experiences in the Trump administration.Bolton, who refused to do so last year as part of the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against Trump, appeared to confirm one of the investigation’s central allegations in his book, saying that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, as a condition to receiving US security aid.However, Americans appear to be less interested in another protracted impeachment investigation, so close to the election. Forty-one percent said they wanted Congress to open another inquiry into Trump, while 39% said they were opposed, and 20% said they were “not sure.”The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,115 adults, including 503 Democrats and 408 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 3 percentage points. With a little over four months to go before the Nov. 3 general election, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, leads Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters, according to the latest poll, down slightly from a 13-point lead in a similar poll last week.Trump has been slow to publicly acknowledge the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 120,000 Americans so far, and he has pushed states to reopen before experts said it was safe to do so.In his first post-pandemic rally, held in Oklahoma on Saturday, the president told thousands of supporters that testing was a “double-edged sword” and that he asked health officials to slow down testing in response to the public’s concern for the growing number of cases.Administration officials said Tuesday that Trump did not, in fact, ask them to slow down testing, which is one way to track and eventually control the spread of the disease.center_img American approval of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dropped to the lowest level on record, the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows, as new COVID-19 cases surged and Trump was widely criticized for suggesting he wanted to slow down testing.The June 22-23 poll also found that a majority of Americans want Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, to testify to Congress under oath, after he accused Trump in a new book of misdeeds, including seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help to win re-election.The poll shows that 37% of Americans approved of the way Trump has responded to the pandemic, the lowest on record since Reuters/Ipsos started asking the question at the beginning of March. Fifty-eight percent said they disapproved.last_img read more

Indonesia, Australia to roll out worker exchange program

first_img“This is part of Indonesia’s benefits in human resource development from joining IA-CEPA, along with a chance for our workers’ capabilities to be recognized by the Australian government and businesses,” he said during a video press conference on Friday.In the implementation of the program, the government will partner with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian-Australian Business Council (IABC).The IA-CEPA, which was ratified by the House of Representatives in February and took effect on July 5, eliminates trade tariffs between the two countries. With the trade pact, the Trade Ministry expects a boost in the export of some Indonesian products to Australia, especially textiles, automotive products, electronics, fishery products and communication tools.As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global trade, Indonesian exports fell 28.95 percent year-on-year (yoy) to US$10.53 billion in May. The country’s exports to Australia amounted to $920 million in the January-May period, up 15.69 percent yoy. Indonesia will conduct a worker-exchange program with Australia to boost its human resources. The plan was announced by a senior government official just days after the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) entered into force.Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said Indonesian workers in health care, telecommunication, transportation, tourism and other sectors were eligible to join the program and could get up to six months of training and work experience in Australia.The government is aiming for 100 Indonesian workers to join the program in the first year, while the number of participants is expected to gradually increase to 500 within five years. Agus also said that, with the IA-CEPA deal, Indonesia aimed to slash the country’s export deficit to Australia by half in 2021 to around $1.5 billion from a $3.2 billion last year.Trade between the two countries amounted to $7.8 billion in 2019, much lower than bilateral trade with Indonesia’s top trading partner, China, which was $73 billion in the same year.“We are hopeful that we can achieve an export surplus in the future, but not this year, because the agreement’s effect will likely be slow, because of the pandemic,” he said. “However, we are optimistic that we can see significant changes in 2021.”The minister stated that the two countries had also agreed to increase the number of working holiday visas to 4,100 from initially 1,000. He expressed hope that, by the sixth year of the IA-CEPA, the quota for this type of visa would reach 5,000.Read also: RI to boost export to Australia as IA-CEPA enters into forceFurthermore, Indonesia and Australia have also decided to prioritize industry partnerships in food agriculture and electric vehicles as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) within the first year of IA-CEPA, according to the trade minister.Previously, Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo) secretary-general Kukuh Kumara said Indonesia’s automotive industry might not immediately benefit from the trade deal because it prioritized trade of electric vehicles (EVs), which Indonesia was not producing yet. The Jokowi administration has set itself a target to start producing EVs in 2021 or 2022.“We do not have the products of the specifications Australian consumers need,” Kukuh told the The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on July 6.Indonesia’s auto industry produced mostly multipurpose vehicles (MPV) or sedans like the Toyota Camry, while Australians prefered sport utility vehicles (SUV), Kukuh added.Topics :last_img read more

Australia’s worst-hit state ‘flattening’ virus curve

first_imgHe said success would depend on people respecting the lockdown rules. “That’s what’s terribly, terribly challenging.”The virus has ravaged Victoria’s aged care homes, with more than 100 residents dying since early August and almost 2,000 active infections linked to the facilities.Elsewhere in Australia, most regions are enjoying relaxed restrictions as they continue to report few or zero new cases of COVID-19.Only New South Wales state has been consistently detecting significant numbers of cases since an outbreak emerged in mid-July after an infected Melbourne man visited a packed Sydney pub.Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the country’s most populous region remained “on high alert” due to small but persistent numbers of cases that could not be traced to any known source.”Whilst numbers have remained stable in New South Wales for the past month, we can’t be assured of that moving forward,” she told reporters in Sydney.Berejiklian urged people to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, hinting face coverings could become mandatory if voluntary take-up did not improve.Australia has recorded just over 22,000 cases of coronavirus to date, with 352 deaths from the virus. Topics : Australia’s worst-hit state of Victoria appears to be curbing a virus outbreak after a week of tougher restrictions, authorities said Wednesday, with new cases falling in recent days even as fatalities topped records.Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced 410 new cases and 21 fatalities — marking Australia’s deadliest day so far — but said the state “certainly” seemed to be flattening the curve.”If you look at the average over the last seven days, we are seeing [numbers] come down,” he told a press conference.center_img The state has reported around or below 400 new daily cases for four consecutive days, raising hopes that an outbreak centered on Melbourne has been contained after numbers soared above 700 in recent weeks.Authorities last week introduced an overnight curfew and shut down non-essential businesses in Australia’s second-biggest city until at least September 13 — the toughest rules imposed in the country since the pandemic began.Andrews cautioned that cases could again rise.”But with compliance up… and these measures in place, our experts remain firm in the view that this will drive the numbers down,” he said.last_img read more

Bosowa seeks to annul Bank Bukopin private placement plan, sues OJK

first_img“The OJK has shamed us by stripping our right to vote despite acknowledging full well that we still hold a stake in Bank Bukopin,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone, claiming that the company had been notified it was unable to vote when the meeting had started.“Given the circumstances, we plan on going to court to annul the decision made in the meeting, as the votes did not reached the 75 percent minimum threshold.”He also refused the private placement plan as Bank Bukopin already has enough capital to support its liquidity.The bank held an extraordinary general shareholders meeting on Tuesday seeking its shareholders’ consent to conduct a private placement. A majority of the shareholders agreed to the plan as it was aimed at further strengthening the bank’s capital structure and solve liquidity issues. Indonesian conglomerate PT Bosowa Corporindo plans to annul publicly listed Bank Bukopin’s private placement plan, claiming that the Financial Services Authority (OJK) has stripped its right to vote.The company also filed a lawsuit against the OJK at the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday, accusing the agency of violating the law by instructing Bank Bukopin to conduct a private placement.Bosowa president director Rudyanto said on Tuesday that the company’s representatives walked out of a shareholders’ meeting held to approve the placement plan after it was announced that Bosowa did not have the right to vote. The publicly listed bank was injected with a total of Rp 838.93 billion (US$57.25 million) in fresh funds following a rights issue in July, which brought the bank’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) to 14 percent from 12.59 percent in June.It also gave the bank a new controlling shareholder, South Korea’s KB Kookmin Bank, whose stake rose to 33.9 percent from 22 percent. Existing controlling shareholder Bosowa also remained as Bank Bukopin’s controlling shareholder as it maintained its ownership at 23.4 percent.Despite the fact that Bosowa holds the second-largest stake in the bank, the OJK instructed state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), which provides technical assistance for Bukopin to solve its liquidity problems, to vote in favor of the private placement on behalf of Bosowa.The decision came after the OJK sent a letter to Bosowa in June, warning it to not obstruct new investors from injecting funds into Bank Bukopin in an effort to solve the bank’s liquidity problems.Bank Bukopin’s liquidity issues and its shareholder commotion surfaced after customers in June were seen lining up for hours just to withdraw or transfer money at the bank’s branches. The bank was limiting daily withdrawals and requiring customers seeking to make withdrawals of more than Rp 10 million to contact the bank two days prior.Bank Bukopin later issued a statement, explaining that the withdrawal limits at several branches were “situational” and it would still allow customers to make transactions.The measure was taken as the bank’s consolidated short-term liquidity coverage, known as liquidity coverage ratio (LCR), stood at 112.03 percent in the first quarter, while its consolidated long-term liquidity coverage, known as the net stable funding rate (NSFR), stood at 100.31 percent. Both figures were nearing the OJK’s minimum threshold of 100 percent.Bank Bukopin president director Rivan A. Purwantono, however, declined to comment on the commotion on Tuesday, saying that the OJK deemed Bosowa had failed to fulfil its commitments as controlling shareholder.“In such a case, the OJK would punish the controlling shareholder by revoking its right to vote during a general shareholders’ meeting,” he said, adding that Bosowa would remain the bank’s shareholder regardless of the sanction.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines needs great care: WHO

first_imgRussia has already granted regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine this month after less than two months of human testing, prompting some Western experts to question its safety and efficacy.The WHO’s preferred approach would be to have a full set of data which could be used for the pre-qualification of vaccines, Swaminathan said. The WHO would then consider the efficacy and safety of each drug on a case by case basis, she added.The WHO has used experimental drugs to combat Ebola in Africa, a measure which proved successful, Mike Ryan, the head of the organization’s emergencies program, said.But he stressed that a fast-track approach without full trials required intensive monitoring and safety follow-up work, and should be halted immediately if problems occur.”If you move too quickly to vaccinate … millions of people, you may miss certain adverse effects,” Ryan said. Topics : The emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines requires a “great deal of seriousness and reflection”, the World Health Organization said on Monday after the United States announced it was considering fast-tracking candidate drugs.Although every country had the right to approve drugs without completing full trials, “it is not something that you do very lightly”, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news conference.The head of the US Food and Drug Administration said he would be willing to bypass the normal approval process to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine as long as officials were convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.last_img read more

‘Indonesia won’t be military base for any country’, Retno says, dismissing Pentagon report

first_imgForeign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has asserted that Indonesia will not be the military base for any foreign country, including China, following a report from the United States’ Department of Defense that states China is planning to build an overseas military logistics facility in Indonesia.“I want to emphasize that, in accordance with the lines and principles of Indonesian foreign policy, Indonesian territory cannot and will not be used as a military facility base for any country,” Retno said during a press briefing on Friday.“I repeat, Indonesian territory cannot and will not be used as a military facility base for any country.” Previously, the US Department of Defense released its annual report titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020.The report was mandated to US Congress as an authoritative assessment on military and security developments involving China.Read also: Thawing out Cold War declaration, ASEAN sets stance in great powers rivalryIt analyzes the contours of China’s national strategy, its approach to security and military affairs and potential changes in China’s armed forces over the next 20 years.“Beyond its current base in Djibouti, the PRC [People’s Liberation Army] is very likely already considering and planning for additional overseas military logistics facilities to support naval, air and ground forces,” the report says.“The PRC has likely considered locations for PLA military logistics facilities in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola and Tajikistan.”China, according to the report, is seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure to allow the PLA to project and sustain military power at greater distances.Topics :last_img read more

Wuhan next-of-kin accuse China of blocking COVID lawsuits

first_imgWuhan pensioner Zhong Hanneng endured every parent’s worst nightmare when coronavirus claimed her son in February, and — alongside other bereaved relatives — she wants to sue the local government she blames for his death.But they have had their lawsuits abruptly rejected, dozens of others face pressure from authorities not to file, and lawyers are being warned against helping them, according to people involved in the effort.The families accuse the Wuhan and Hubei provincial governments of concealing the outbreak when it first emerged there late last year, failing to alert the public, and bungling the response, allowing COVID-19 to explode out of control. Topics : Plaintiffs are each seeking around two million yuan ($295,000) in damages and a public apology.But the court has rejected suits on unspecified procedural grounds, said Yang Zhanqing, a veteran Chinese activist now in the US.Yang, who is coordinating two dozen lawyers in China who are secretly advising families, said the rejections have come via curt phone calls — not through official written explanations, as legally required — apparently to avoid a paper trail.Staff at the Wuhan court refused AFP requests for comment. It has killed nearly 3,900 in the city and over 900,000 globally so far.”They say the epidemic was a natural calamity. But these serious outcomes are man-made, and you need to find who’s to blame,” said Zhong, 67.”Our family is shattered. I can never be happy again.”At least five lawsuits have been filed with the Wuhan Intermediate Court, said Zhang Hai, whose elderly father died of the virus and who has emerged as a vocal advocate and spokesman for families of virus victims.center_img Stonewalling The virus emerged in Wuhan last December but city authorities initially dragged their feet, pressuring whistle-blowing doctors to keep quiet.The Communist Party continues to downplay responsibility, even questioning whether the pathogen originated in China, while trumpeting its later success in suppressing domestic infections.It held a grand ceremony in Beijing last week, where President Xi Jinping declared the nation had passed an “extraordinary and historic test” through a swift and transparent response.But Zhong tells a different story.By late January, the contagion was spreading rapidly in Wuhan, but officials had still issued no citywide alarm.With the extended Lunar New Year festival approaching, Zhong and her son Peng Yi — a 39-year-old primary schoolteacher — happily shopped at jam-packed stores. Millions of others left Wuhan for the holiday, taking the infection global.”We had no idea the buses were full of the virus… So we went out every day. We didn’t even know about masks,” Zhong told AFP.On January 24, as Wuhan finally began locking down, she and Peng fell ill. She soon recovered, but he worsened.Fear gripped their household, which included Zhong’s husband, Peng’s wife, and his seven-year-old daughter.For the next two agonizing weeks, they spent long hours in overwhelmed hospitals begging to get him admitted, but without a positive result — and with testing kits scarce — he was repeatedly turned away.Peng was finally hospitalized Feb. 6.His family never saw him alive again. He died on a respirator two weeks later.”He must have been so scared, so unhappy, with no family around. I can’t imagine how sad he was,” said Zhong, breaking down repeatedly.”Did he call out ‘Mother’? ‘Father’? I don’t know.” Never give up Zhang Hai believes his father was infected at a Wuhan hospital during treatment for an unrelated ailment.He says authorities are waging a campaign to discredit him, suspending his social media accounts and circulating disinformation that the legal efforts are a scam to bilk families.Others also have reported official intimidation, and next-of-kin chat groups have been infiltrated by police, Zhang alleged, blaming Wuhan’s government.”They know if I succeed in filing a case, many other families will sue, too,” he said.Wuhan’s government did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment.Zhang said dozens of bereaved relatives have coalesced in chat groups, but most are fearful of taking action.With his initial suit in Wuhan rejected, Zhang filed recently with a higher, provincial-level court. Zhong, the elderly pensioner, plans the same.Yang, the US-based activist, believes it “very likely” the government will quietly meet some families’ demands eventually, though a public apology is inconceivable.Until then, Zhang intends to appeal all the way to China’s highest court in Beijing, regardless of the personal risks.”My father is my motivation,” he said. last_img read more

PREMIUMVaccine development to drive JCI’s Q4 performance: Analysts

first_imgThe performance of the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), the main gauge of the local stock exchange, in the fourth quarter hinges on vaccine developments, analysts have said, as the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic remains an important driver of the index’ movement.Despite several tailwinds supporting the JCI’s outlook in the second half of the year, volatility will remain, at least until a vaccine has been approved, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) Sekuritas said.“All boils down to vaccine approval. We maintain our view that the approval for population use could be secured in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year,” BNI Sekuritas research head Kim Kwie Sjamsudin told The Jakarta Post over a text message on Monday. The firm expected the eventual approval would materially prop up the global market as the effective and safe vacci… Google LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here JCI jakarta-composite-index Indonesia-Stock-Exchange IDX stock-market vaccine COVID-19 Linkedin Topics : Facebook Forgot Password ? Log in with your social accountlast_img read more