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Long-term care bill sees last chance for passage at legislature

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Today's Legislative session will determine if the draft of several articles of the Long-term Care Services for Senior Citizens bill will be passed

After the Legislative Yuan passed an initial examination of the draft of the Long-term Care Services for Senior Citizens bill, Health and Welfare Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) announced the estimated fee for the insurance, roughly between 20 and 25 percent of National Health Insurance fares paid by the average citizen, and added that the new long-term care system will be implemented according to the new law in three years.

According to Chiu, each citizen will need to pay an additional NT$200 to NT$300 each month as regulated by the bill that will be passed. “If you are to take money from the people, you will be criticized despite all odds, but this is part of my mission,” said Chiu.

The Long-term Care Service bill includes family members of the elderly and disabled among those that may enlist the assistance of foreign helpers, a change that will greatly decrease the pressure family members have to shoulder, said Chiu.

The minister stated yesterday that he hoped the Legislature will vote for the passage of the draft after three readings in today's session, and the draft of the Long-term Care Insurance bill will be sent to the Legislative Yuan in September to be reviewed and voted on.

The long-term care insurance fees will be paid by different groups of people, the ratios meted out according to each person's salaries. The government will pay 10 percent of insurance fees while the employers pay 60 percent and employees 30 percent.

Mandatory for All Citizens

The Long-term Care system will be mandatory for all citizens, said Chiu, who added that he has “already prepared himself to be criticized harshly by people who have to pay extra fees, but the system is essential as Taiwan's population is ageing rapidly.”

The current National Health Insurance system operates on a budget of NT$50 billion each year, and the Long-term Care system will need an additional NT$10 billion.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), over 70 percent of Taiwanese citizens hope that the new system will be implemented as soon as possible, and are willing to pay an extra NT$300 to NT$500 per month. The new law is also designed to be fair as it requires the disabled to be residing in Taiwan for over three years in order to apply for long-term care services, Chiu added.

Double Standard for Employing Foreign Caretakers

Families looking to employ foreign helpers and caretakers may file the applications on their own or through long-term care agencies. Out of roughly 440,000 foreign laborers in Taiwan, nearly 200,000 are serving as long-term caretakers — the majority of whom stay with their employers.

Chiu stated that once the new system is carried out, employing families are encouraged to apply for foreign laborers through agencies so the helpers can avoid conflicts with their employers, as they do not have to stay with the families they work with.

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