Danijel Bešič Loredan joined the long and distinguished list of former ministers of health of the republic of Muddy Hollows. Handpicked by PM Robert Golob personally to oversee the portfolio, he threw in the towel on Friday afternoon. Apparently, the brawler who liked to do things mano-a-mano, suffered one setback too many.
Health system is a classic third rail of Slovenian politics. Touch it, and you’re most likely dead. Which, in a nutshell, is what happened to Bešič Loredan. Albeit much of it is his own fault, too. I mean, if you’re going to screw around with a high-voltage system, you better know what you are doing. And wear some thick protection. On that count, DBL went zero for two. Fuck around to find out.
Incidentally, the other third rail in Muddy Hollows is real estate taxation. Which was also something the Big Bird was very vocal about. Until a push came to shove and he blinked, backing away from a comprehensive tax reform. So far, Robert Golob is taking the talk but not really walking the walk. And in about a year or so, he will start running out of a path to walk on.
Failing to deliver
Golob invested quite a lot of political capital in appointing DBL health minister. He picked the guy even before he kicked off coalition negotiations. He then made it known that Daniel Bešič Loredan as health minister is non-negotiable. But on the whole, the hand-picked minister of health failed to deliver.
Sure, he took over a health system that was still reeling from the pandemic. He was also buffeted from all sides by special interest of every shape, taste and colour. But that is true of every health minister and wasn’t specific to Bešič Loredan. It just sucks running the health portfolio.
However, instead of making thing at least a little bit better, DBL made them worse. On almost all fronts.
He famously didn’t get along with health labour unions. Nor did he get along with his advisors or the PM-appointed strategic council on health. He also didn’t get along with his PR people or his own chiefs of staff, burning through six of them in less than a year.
Health ministers don’t grow on trees
But it seems that it was his inability to successfully tackle even the most immediate problems of the health system, which did him in. Specifically, in an attempt to cut intolerably long waiting periods for a number of specialist treatments, Bešič Loderan managed to make it even worse, lengthening the waiting times. Support, political and otherwise, was disappearing from DBL faster than Arctic ice in the middle of a heatwave.
This, of course, is a huge setback for the Big Bird as well. Health ministers do not exactly grow on trees around here. And with DBL being the second minister to have received Golob’s vocal support only to get the can days later, pengovsky has the feeling people will not be exactly lining up for the job.
So the problem PM Golob faces now is two-fold. He needs to salvage what he can of the health reform, and he needs to re-establish his personal credibility. The latter might prove to be more difficult of the two. It will require self-discipline to turn the phrase “I enjoy the PM’s full support” from a kiss of death back to its literal meaning.
The former, however, might actually still be doable. So little was done over the years that any meaningful change will be akin to a revolution. Like re-organisation of health insurance schemes this week, where after three decades the state cut private health insurance companies out of the deal.
A year wasted
It should also be noted that the ruling coalition botched that particular job, too, and by passing the law blew a cool one hundred million hole in the budget. It also ended up effectively burdening the lower-income people more than higher-income people, due to the way the personal income taxation works. Both situations are meant to be improved and redressed, but this is all an illustration of how, within the health system, things can quickly go to hell in a handcart.
At any rate, Golob just wasted a year, supporting a minister who turned out to be a dud. And unless the prime minister gets expedicious, pronto, he will come to badly rue these past twelve months.