The Slovenia Times

Health Ministry's budget expanding by EUR 210m

Health & Medicine

Ljubljana - The Health Ministry's budget for the year will increase by EUR 210 million to EUR 894 million under the revised budget document currently debated in parliament. The bulk of the increase is linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, the Health Committee heard on Wednesday.

State Secretary Tadej Ostrc told MPs most of the increase would cover measures to manage the epidemic and the emergency law to stabilise healthcare by supply additional funds to tackle wait times. EUR 20 million is earmarked for the latter and EUR 509 million for Covid-19 measures.

Other items include those related to costs such as those of the funeral service and health insurance for those at risk of poverty being shifted from local to national government under the municipal costs reduction act.

The ministry will also cover the costs of internships and speciality training of health workers.

The Health Ministry official also noted EUR 99 million in investment in health infrastructure, which represents 12% of the ministry's budget.

Further funds are allocated to boost the epidemiological service to make it better prepared to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Also budgeted are funds to digitalise the health system.

Miroslav Gregorič of the ruling Freedom Movement urged a rethink on spending for Covid-19 measures, terming it unbelievable that those should account for 57% of the Health Ministry's new budget. He also questioned EUR 99 million earmarked for health staff training.

Meanwhile, Zvonko Černač, an MP of the opposition Democrats (SDS) who served as regional cohesion policy minister in the previous government, expressed concern about a slowdown in investment activities, pointing that the EU's current financial period when funds can be drawn wraps up at the end of 2023.

Similar concerns were raised by Iva Dimic of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi). She said EUR 110 million less than initially planned was allocated for investment at secondary and tertiary level of healthcare.

Both Černač and Dimic regretted EUR 64 million less was earmarked for long-term care.

Ostrc admitted that investments were being delayed and part of the funds were thus relocated to next year, but he promised an effort would be made to use up the available EU funds.

Commenting on the budget for training, Ostrc said the amount included salaries for mentors and funds for some 2,100 interns and 300 speciality doctor trainees a year. Meanwhile, the bulk of the budget for Covid-19 measures was under the emergency law that is in effect until December.


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