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Senior centers nationwide unveil plaques for long-term care 2.0 program

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Premier Lin Chuan visited a senior center in Taipei's Wanhua District as long-term care centers around the country held plaque unveiling ceremonies today to usher in the official launch of Taiwan's "10-year long-term care 2.0" program, set for January 1, 2017. President Tsai Ing-wen made appearances at long-term care centers in Yunlin and Chiayi counties while magistrates and mayors in other counties and cities hosted their respective ceremonies.

At the ceremony for Taipei City, Premier Lin said the government hopes to provide the best service using limited resources. Given national budget limitations, the long-term care program began on a trial basis in select cities and counties, and will be expanded to the rest of Taiwan next year when every county and city will set up at least one demonstration center. After the appropriate payment standards are established, the program should be officially implemented in all parts of the country within two to three years.

Promoting a comprehensive long-term care program requires enormous funding, the premier said. To pay for that kind of program, the government is temporarily employing a tax revenue scheme rather than an insurance scheme because the latter may require citizens to pay an estimated US$100 billion (US$3.1 billion) or more a year. And considering that the long-term care industry has yet to be established and the necessary services are still lacking, the government will be using tax revenues at this stage to set up the industry and establish the payment system. As with the National Health Insurance program, the government will set standards for long-term care payments, service items, specifications and costs before fully implementing the system and deciding between a tax revenue or an insurance funding scheme.

Taipei City has plentiful long-term care resources, a good environment and experienced people, Premier Lin said, expressing confidence that Taipei will set an excellent example for other counties and cities. Twenty counties and cities are currently participating in the trial run, each with at least one demonstration center already in place. The system divides different types of care centers into three tiers, and individuals requiring long-term care are first evaluated by a care management center before being referred to a Tier A center where a variety of services are available to meet their needs. Premier Lin hopes all senior citizens will be offered a full range of options and benefit from excellent services.

The government will continue expanding the types of services provided including daytime care, meal deliveries, home-based services, and rehabilitation for moderate impairments. The long-term care centers will also give seniors more opportunities for personal interaction, which will delay age-related decline and help them maintain good health and daily living habits.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), trial runs of the community-based care system began in November with Wanhua District among the first locations selected. The system's three tiers consist of community-based integrated service centers (Tier A), combined day care service centers (Tier B), and long-term care stations in alleys and lanes (Tier C). Except for Kinmen and Lienchiang counties, 20 counties and cities across Taiwan are in the trial-run phase, with expectations that 17 Tier-A centers, 44 Tier-B centers and 85 Tier-C centers will be set up. After evaluating results of the trials, the MOHW will begin the second phase next year. The ministry will also form a guidance group to provide practical advice to local governments and service centers as they test the program, lay the foundation for long-term care, and expand services to the entire nation.

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