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‘New health insurance scheme could worsen manpower woes’  Listenfacebook
A patient's rights group has warned that a newly-unveiled voluntary health insurance scheme could worsen the manpower shortage at public hospitals, if people do flock to the new programme. The Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme guarantees more comprehensive coverage than plans currently available in the market – but is expected to cost around 15 percent more. Under the scheme, insurance firms must renew policies until holders reach the age of 100, and cover some diseases and treatments commonly excluded now. However, firms can reject applications from people who are chronically ill. Officials say they're confident a million people will sign up within the first two years, and alleviate pressure on the public health system. But the chairman of Hong Kong Patients' Voices, Alex Lam, told Annemarie Evans he's not convinced it'll be a runaway success:
Computer problems an ‘excuse’ to sidestep flat subsidy calls  Listenfacebook
IT-sector lawmaker Charles Mok says the Financial Secretary was probably using computer troubles as an excuse, when he explained why the government didn't offer any subsidies for people who rent flats in his budget. Some critics have accused Paul Chan of catering to rich homeowners by offering them up to HK$10,000 dollars in rates waivers this coming year – while offering nothing to renters. The official told a radio programme that the government is still looking into the idea, but it wasn't feasible this year because of computer limitations at the Inland Revenue Department. Ben Tse asked Mr Mok if he buys this explanation:
SMA sufferers cheer deal for lifesaving drug  Listenfacebook
Sufferers of a rare spinal cord disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, have cheered a new deal the government's reached to supply them with free doses of a potentially lifesaving drug. The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, delivered the news in person on Thursday morning to wheelchair-bound university student Josy Chow, who made headlines with an emotional plea for help last year. But while the drug, Spinraza, will be made available initially for free to sufferers in around two months' time, details will have to be worked out as to how much the drug will cost in the long run under a subsidy programme, and who'll be eligible for it. Carmen Yau from the Hong Kong SMA group told Annemarie Evans she's hoping for the best:
Major retailers announce restrictions for gun sales  Listenfacebook
Two weeks after the shooting at a Florida school where 17 people died, two major retailers have announced new restrictions on gun sales. The retail giant Walmart says it's raising the minimum age at which customers can buy firearms and ammunition to 21. And Dick's Sporting Goods has announced that all of its stores will now no longer sell assault-style rifles – the type of weapon used in the Florida shooting. Meanwhile, meeting members of Congress, US President Donald Trump said it was time to act on the issue of gun safety, telling lawmakers it was up to them to come up with a comprehensive bipartisan solution. Glenn Shive, Executive Director of the Hong Kong America Center, spoke to Annemarie Evans the latest developments: