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Article Taiwan: Long-Term Care Legislation Adopted

(May 22, 2015) On May 15, 2015, the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s main legislative body, passed a draft law on long-term care services. Passage of the law clears the way for legislation on long-term care insurance to be adopted. (Alison Hsiao, Legislature Passes Long-Term Care Bill, TAIPEI TIMES (May 16, 2015); Long-Term Care Services Act [Act] (May 15, 2015), Legislative Yuan website (in Chinese).)

Passage of the new law, which was authored by the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT), was achieved only after a controversial provision on funding was put to a floor vote as a last-ditch measure. The provision states that the funding of long-term care should come from five sources: “public coffers, health surcharges on tobacco, donations, interest from the fund, and other sources.” (Hsiao, supra; Act, art. 15, ¶ 3.) The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had instead recommended that inheritance and gift taxes be increased to fund the services. (Hsiao, supra.) The same provision authorizes the establishment of a Long-Term Care Services Development Fund, with a minimum amount of NT$12 billion (about US$394.8 million), to be developed by the government over a five-year period. (Act, art. 15, ¶¶ 1 & 2.) The limits on and sources of the Fund should be reviewed after the law has been implemented for two years. (Id. art. 15, ¶ 4.)

While DPP legislator Yu Mei-nu noted that the new law “is progressive as it guarantees universal, plural and affordable services and the dignity and rights of both care-receivers and caregivers” and clearly prohibits discrimination, she found it regrettable that the Act “lacks the funding to be extensively and substantively enforced,” given that it works out to be “only NT$2.4 billion per year.” (Hsiao, supra.)

Features of the Act

The Act defines long-term care as life support, assistance, societal involvement, and care and the related medical services to meet the needs of individuals whose mental or physical incapacity has lasted for or is expected to last more than six months or of their caregivers. (Act, art. 3(1).) The Act distinguishes between the services to be provided by central institutions (art. 4) and by local institutions (art. 5). The types of long-term care services include home care; community care (in a certain community place or facility), including daytime care, household support, temporary accommodation, group housing, and small-scale multifunctional and other integrated services; institutional residency, providing the care recipient with full-time or night-time accommodation; household caregiver support services, provided at a specified time, at the home, etc. to a family care giver; and other types that may be announced by the central authorities in charge. (Act, art. 9 ¶ 1.)

KMT Legislator Alicia Wang pointed out that the four main pillars of the Act are “personnel management and training; management of institutions; protection of the rights of the care-receivers[;] and encouraging and rewarding measures for the development of services.” (Hsiao, supra.) She added that the new law also provides for “employed, personal and family caregivers to be systematically incorporated into the long-term care system framework, with the former group, including migrant caregivers, provided with training and the latter with respite care services.” (Id.)

Minister of Health and Welfare Chiang Been-huang indicated that there are nearly 800,000 disabled people in Taiwan in need of long-term care, so that in effect more than two million people would benefit if those who need the services and their families are included. (Id.)

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