Slovenia Health Minister Assures Legislation of Long Term Health Care Reform to Address the Needs of Ageing Population

As in the case of other countries, Slovenia is also facing the reality that the country has to deal with a rapidly ageing population. The condition has long been calling attention from the government legislators to adopt health care laws aimed at providing long-term care.

 

According to Slovenia’s incumbent Health Minister Aleš Šabeder, the long-awaited legislation will be unveiled soon, possibly by the end of 2019 or by early 2020. However, some open issues still need to be discussed as the plan is to reform the existing Healthcare Act with caution.

Slovenia healthcare is primarily administered through the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (HIIS). It is a mandatory insurance program that requires contributions from employees and their current employers.

However, the health care provided is not all inclusive and therefore not long-term; or one that can help the country’s ageing population meet their medical needs when no longer able to work, or be constrained to live in nursing homes or in assisted-living facilities.

 

Under the present system, except for children’s healthcare, Slovenians have to pay additional insurance for supplementary medical or non-medical coverage, in order to increase the funds of the HIIS.

Key Points in Minister Šabeder’s Healthcare Agenda

“We have to find a solution for a long-term and stable source of financing if our goal is to abolish supplementary health insurance. What we are discussing here would cost about half a billion euros, but they will have to be secured one way or another”

— Slovenia Health Minister Aleš Šabeder

According to Šabeder, requiring higher contributions is likely but the amount, or whether it will be made voluntary or mandatory is still under evaluation. The Health Ministry is working with the Finance Ministry in conducting several simulations that adopt varying measures; such as higher contribution rates or imposing new taxes. The Health Minister though hopes that a small mandatory contribution would be possible.

Minister Šabeder is also tackling action plans aimed at waiting times, particularly in orthopaedic surgery. He considers, including private providers if necessary, in order to address waiting time issues. However, suggestions to furnish additional funds to private health institutions in order to reduce waiting time has been met with strong opposition. Some consider the proposal as a veiled way of veering away from public health care to favor private providers.

Bratislava Bus Drivers Warn of Holding a Strike on First Day of School

In Bratislava, some bus drivers have once again warned of holding a strike on September 02, 2019 between the hours of 4 to 7 pm; the same day students will be returning to school after the summer break.

Sometime in June 2019, Bratislava bus drivers had planned on going on a strike for reasons that Bratislava is the only Slovakia region that still has not honored a collective agreement that would see to the benefits of Slovak Bus Transport (SAD) drivers and their immediate family members. The commitment included social benefits such as giving bus drivers and members of their relatives free bus rides.

However, Autošofér trade union head Jozef Hitka, said that the collective agreement entered with the Dopravný podnik Bratislava (DBP) remains invalid, stating that drivers are still working under unsatisfactory conditions. Drivers are said to be bullied while their social benefits have no guarantee. The trade union has been calling on the DBP management to tackle several issues they have raised for sometime now.

According to Hitka, these are only some of the reasons why they will hold a 3-hour strike on September 02, 2019, but their main agenda is for the creation of a new set of rules in order to secure better employment terms with the DBP, being the company managing Bratislava’s transport system.

DBP’s Position on the Claims of Bratislava Bus Drivers

The public transport system being managed by the DBP consists of three types of vehicles: buses, trolleybuses and trams. Of those three, buses nearly cover the entire city, whilst plying 70 day routes, 20 night routes, and other routes for certain occasions. Routes reach the most remote areas and boroughs in the region.

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Revenue from the sale of transport tickets is said to cover 40% of expenses incurred in maintaining the transport system. The remaining 60% is said to be subsidized by the city government. Vehicle drivers are not involved in the sale or validation of tickets, since commuters must buy them from pre-sale points like ticket machines,news stands or at DPB offices. Commuters first validate their ticket in the vehicle’s stamping machine before they can take a seat.

In response to the new calls for strike by the bus drivers, the Bratislava Transport Company or Dopravný podnik Bratislava ( DPB) assured the public that the planned strike will not affect public transport in the Slovakia capital. Based on an internal survey, the company believes the number of drivers that will take part in the planned strike will not be huge. Still, DPB said that management respects the drivers’ right to go on strike.

Moreover, the transport company claims that there is no reason to call the strike anew; asserting that management regularly adopts measures to make a bus driver’s job more attractive..

Regarding the bus driver unions’ claim that the collective agreement remains invalid, the reason for this is said to be due to conflicts among trade unions. DBP management asserts that negotiations over the collective agreement have not reached a conclusion because some trade unions are not united.

DPB spokesperson Adriana Volfová said the company is waiting for the Labour Ministry to choose and authorize one of trade unions involved in the negotiations to take charge in order to conclude the collective agreement. Once that matter has been settled, Volfová said the company promises to renew negotiation talks.

Investigative Journalist’s Death Drove Slovakian Voters to Elect First Female President

The murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova in February 2018 not only spurred huge civic protests but also led to a political change in Slovakia.

Voters in the country’s 2019 presidential election made a political statement by casting votes that favored a political newcomer and known environment lawyer, Zuzana Caputova. The number of votes demonstrated the nation’s determination to make political reforms happen and the desire to rid the government of political corruption. The overwhelming number of votes in favor of Caputova, denied the ruling party Smer, the chance to install as president Maroš Šefčovič, a Vice President at the European Commission.

Prior to the holding of the 2019 presidential election, outgoing president Andrej Kiska had announced that he will not be seeking for a new term in office. At the time of the announcement, surveys showed that Kiska was the politician most Slovakians trusted. Many were of the opinion that had the former president presented himself as candidate, he might have won another term in the presidential office.

Still, the people was presented with another choice. There was Zuzana Caputova, a pro-European liberal who made a vow to carry out the struggle for justice and the fight against government corruption. the very core of slain Jan Kuciak’s investigations. In declaring her presidential bid, Ms. Caputova announced that the gunning down of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, made her decide to run for presidency despite her lack of political experience.

As the turn of events has it, Zuzana Caputova, the 45-year old liberal candidate and member of the non-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia party, became the country’s first woman president.

Zuzana Caputova: Education and Professional Background in Brief

Zuzana Caputova is an award winning lawyer who earned the Goldman Environmental prize in 2016. The recognition was bestowed for her participation through leadership, in a successful campaign against an influential land developer who had plans of setting up a toxic landfill in her hometown. The feat also earned her the title “Erin Brockovich of Slovakia.”

Coming from a working class family, Zuzana grew up in Pezinok in what she describes as an open-minded household, which helped shaped her liberal views. Regarding the LGBT sector, she sees same-sex marriage as better than sending “at risk” children to orphanages. On the matter of abortion, she believes that every woman has the right to make such a decision.

After completing her studies at Comenius University Faculty of Law in Bratislava, she found work at Pezinok’s local government, first as a legal aide and later as deputy assistant to the town mayor. She then went on to work in the non-profit sector; for organizations like the Open Society Foundation which dealt with issues of child abuse and exploitation, the EQ Klub, a civic association addressing local community development, and world-renowned environmentalist group, Greenpeace.

Čaputová furthered her career by establishing her own law firm and by becoming a fellow of a network of environmental lawyers called the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).