(LEAD) Senior policymakers set to hold meeting on medical school quota, pension reform

Senior officials from the ruling party, the government and the presidential office were set to hold a meeting Sunday to discuss plans to increase the number of medical students and reform the nation's pension system, officials said.

The planned meeting comes as the government is widely expected to make a decision on how much it will increase the enrollment quota for medical schools as early as this week.

The government has pushed to increase the annual enrollment quota for medical schools by 1,000.

Since 2006, the enrollment quota for medical schools has been fixed at 3,058.

If the government decides to increase the new quota, it will begin affecting medical schools in 2025.

Medical associations, however, publicly opposed the plan, saying the government should first focus on devising policies to better allocate the doctors at needed places before increasing the quota.

"If the government pushes ahead with the plan unilaterally, it is breaking the trust between the medical workers and the government," Lee Pil-soo, head of the Korean Medical Association, told Yonhap News Agency over phone.

Lee called on the government to thoroughly discuss the matter with medical authorities, warning its move could spark a bigger opposition from doctors than in 2020.

In 2020, doctors went on a nationwide strike in protest against the then Moon Jae-in government's push to increase the number of medical students.

Following the weekslong walkout in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government backed down and put the medical reform plans on hold.

"We have no choice but to take strong collective action if the government pushes ahead with a medical quota increase without discussing measures to fundamentally reform the medical system," the Seoul Medical Association has said in a statement.

The Sunday meeting is also expected to discuss pension reform, officials said.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo; Kim Gi-hyeon, the leader of the ruling People Power Party; Education Minister Lee Ju-ho; and presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki planned to attend the meeting.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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