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Initial examination of senior care bill passes committee

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday passed an initial examination of the amendment of several articles of the Long-term Care Services for Senior Citizens bill.

The ruling party and opposition caucus reached a consensus that current long-term care centers should renew their certificates in five years in accordance with the new regulation once the Legislature passes the third reading of the bill. A care service center cannot operate if it fails to do so.

The committee also passed an article that states that if a care service center makes severe mistakes leading to fatalities, the government can recind the center's operation certificate.

Foreign Caregiver Employment

The ruling and opposition parties, however, could not reach a consensus regarding the funding source for long-term senior care services as well as the foreign caregiver employment issue.

According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, over 206,376 foreign workers are serving as caregivers in the nation. Currently, employers who wish to hire foreign caregivers may only do so for themselves.

One of the proposals raised by legislators stipulates that families of disabled citizens can employ foreign caregivers via long-term care service centers. Moreover, should the proposal pass in the Legislature, a care service center must offer professional training to foreign caregivers to raise the quality of their services.

Some of the legislators proposed that all foreign caregivers should undergo training before taking care of senior or disabled citizens; nevertheless, several domestic labor groups have expressed concerns over the proposal. In light of this, the committee decided to table the amendment and delegate it to cross-caucus negotiations to settle the disagreements.

MHW Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said he is pleased that the legislature passed the initial examination on the senior care bill, noting that it is a huge step as the government has been pushing the bill for nearly five years. Chiu said he appreciates that the ruling and opposition caucus could work on the amendment together.

Teng Su-wen (鄧素文), commissioner for the Department of Nursing and Health Care (DNH), said the MHW is scheduled to propose legislation regarding insurance policies for long-term care services in the second half of 2014.

According to legislative procedure, a statutory bill is sent to a legislative committee for initial examination. After the examination, it will be decided whether or not the bill should be referred to cross-caucus negotiations. If the bill does not have to go through further negotiations, then it will be sent to the Yuan Sitting for discussions regarding the second and third reading.

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