Health Committee happy with more funds as it debates 2022, 2023 budgets

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Ljubljana – The parliamentary Health Committee discussed the draft national budgets for 2022 and 2023 when the Health Ministry’s budgets will stand at EUR 683 million and almost EUR 524 million, respectively. The drop in funds in 2023 is largely a result of less funds envisaged for managing the Covid-19 epidemic.

State Secretary Robert Cugelj said the ministry’s funds in the draft supplementary budget for 2022 are by EUR 389.7 million higher than planned when the 2022 budget was passed last November. A great deal of the rise is due to epidemic financing, investment (EUR 142 million), long-term care and health insurance for the socially deprived.

Other health programmes will get EUR 143 million, chiefly for the socially deprived, while EUR 180,000 will go for scholarships as a novelty next year.

The investment money will be spent to complete a diagnostic and therapeutic service complex at UKC Ljubljana, for hospital and ER projects, energy renovation, hospital pharmacies, construction of infection clinics as well as for primary healthcare.

The 2022 supplementary budget also envisages some funds to finance projects contained in the recently passed law on investment in healthcare.

In 2023, the ministry’s funds will drop by EUR 159 million, as almost EUR 186 million less is planned for managing the epidemic. Cugelj said “we’re optimistic and we believe the epidemic will slowly dwindle”. However, funds for investments and long-term care will rise, for investment to EUR 155.4 million.

The epidemic will be funded from cohesion funds, to the tune of EUR 78 million, which should go mostly for healthcare infrastructure, said the state secretary.

Several opposition MPs welcomed a rise in funds for healthcare, but highlighted the fact that the state has to borrow to finance the budget.

The LMŠ’s Jože Lenart said healthcare did not need just investments but also funds for improvements in organisation and efficiency and for IT support.

Cugelj said the ministry was working on projects for a digital platform, for which EUR 15 million in EU funds was set aside as part of the national recovery plan.

The committee’s chair Anja Bah Žibert, an MP for the ruling SDS, said the draft budgets were well prepared, prioritising what the country really needed.

Healthcare is underfunded, and the two draft budgets and some other measures bring important investments for it, she said. She sees this as important steps towards not being constantly afraid the system might not hold.