Landmark long-term care legislation adopted
The government has adopted a bill on long-term care that determines the scope of long-term care services the state plans to provide, and introduces a new contribution to finance services that will be paid by employers and employees.
Under the legislation, the state would finance long-term care with a direct budget outlay of €190 million a year plus a 1% contribution rate for employees, employers and pensioners, respectively.
The bill will be implemented gradually. It will take effect on 1 January 2024, with new services being phased in over the next two years.
This is the largest step in long-term care in the past three decades and it introduces the changes needed to address the needs of an ageing society, Minister for Solidarity-Based Future Simon Maljevac said on 27 June.
"There are too few beds in elderly care homes, not enough funds for care and home care, and there are staff shortages. Therefore, the need for an immediate systemic and long-term solution is all the more pressing," he said.
Home plus institutional care
Slovenia has so far not had a single long-term care system and most long-term care is currently provided by nursing homes or personal assistants. This legislation aims to change that.
The overarching aim is to allow older people to stay at home as long as possible.
The bill stipulates that home care must be equally accessible without regard to one's place of residence or long-term care insurance. The users would be eligible to between 20 and 110 hours of home care.
People who remain at home would be eligible to the same care provided to those living in care homes.
A new cash benefit will replace what is currently termed allowance for aid and service and is laid down in a number of different laws and paid out in different amounts.
Under the new bill, this would be harmonised at the end of 2025.
Criticism from business, opposition
While there is broad consensus that a single long-term care bill is needed, many stakeholders have voiced criticism, in particular regarding the new contribution.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said that the funding was not a part of the public debate as the draft submitted for public consultation did not include any funding provisions. It said this should be excluded from the bill and determined in a separate piece of legislation
The centre-right opposition likewise rejected the new contribution. New Slovenia described it as an unworkable bill designed to "get more money from people's pockets," whereas the Democrats said that what the bill primarily does is "requires the citizens to open their pockets wide."
The bill comes half a year after the implementation of long-term care legislation drafted by the previous government, which was supposed to take effect this year, was scrapped because it did not provide funding for services.
The government wants to fast-track the bill through parliament.