Today in Austria For Members

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

The Local Austria
The Local Austria - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Pictured: a patient is examined by a doctor (Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash)

Reimbursement for elective doctors goes digital in July; Favoriten sees crime drop after six weeks of weapons ban, weather extremes increased in Austria and more news from Austria on Thursday.


Reimbursement for elective doctors goes digital in July

Significant changes are coming for patients who visit elective doctors (the Wahlärzte, those not contracted with national health insurance).  Starting July 1st, these doctors will be required to electronically submit fee information to the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) upon patient request.

Previously, patients had to submit paper receipts for reimbursement. ÖGK Director General Bernhard Wurzer calls this a "milestone" for streamlining the process.

Wurzer clarifies that patients will have control over the electronic submission. They can request it or decline it. Ultimately, the goal is full automation, with reimbursements reaching patients within 14 days. Currently, handwritten paper slips create processing delays.

The change also benefits ÖGK by reducing their workload. Elective doctors will be required to use the "WAH online" program for electronic submissions, eliminating the need for scanning handwritten documents. While only 10% of doctors currently use WAH online, Wurzer expects widespread adoption by July, given the program's mandatory nature. Doctors have been aware of the upcoming change since January 1st.

READ ALSO: Healthcare in Austria - Why are there fewer ‘public’ doctors?


Austria to hike amount to be paid out for 2024 ‘Klimabonus’ payment

Austrian authorities will soon start sending out the so-called Klimabonus payment, which will be a higher amount than last year.

'Smugglers are now avoiding Austria', minister says

Austria's Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, has announced that the country's stricter stance on asylum policies is yielding positive outcomes. In a statement to the German newspaper "Welt," Karner highlighted a significant decrease in illegal migrant apprehensions at the border with Hungary. In the first quarter of 2023, authorities detained 4,450 individuals, a stark contrast to the 190 apprehensions in the same period last year.

Karner attributed this decline to intensified border controls and accelerated asylum procedures. He emphasised that Austria's crackdown on illegal immigration and swift deportation of offenders are sending a clear message to human smugglers: Austria is not a viable route for their operations.

Furthermore, Karner advocated for the repatriation of criminal Afghan migrants and suggested extending such measures to Syrians, citing certain regions in Syria "as safe for return". He commended Denmark's agreement with the Kosovar government, allowing for the operation of detention facilities to deport convicted criminals from third countries. The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) aims to explore a similar arrangement for Austria.

READ ALSO: ‘Danish model’: What are Austria’s strict plans to cut social benefits for foreigners?


Favoriten sees crime drop after six weeks of weapons ban

Favoriten, Vienna's largest district, has seen a significant decrease in crime since a weapons ban was implemented six weeks ago, broadcaster ORF reported. The Ministry of the Interior reports a drop of more than half in criminal activity.

A newly formed youth crime task force, the EJK, has been credited with the success. They've conducted over 1,000 checks through targeted operations and patrols and filed 190 charges in Favoriten alone. Notably, special operations at Reumannplatz have resulted in the confiscation of eleven weapons, primarily knives.

"The EJK is carrying out almost daily priority operations," said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner. This focus on Favoriten is part of a larger national effort. Police across Vienna have conducted over 8,700 checks, resulting in 940 charges. Nationwide, that number climbs to 14,000 checks and over 2,000 charges.


Weather extremes increased in Austria

Austria's climate report paints a concerning picture for 2023. The year began and ended with abnormal warmth, while frequent and heavy precipitation events caused significant damage, particularly in the south.

The report highlights Austria's infrastructure's vulnerability to extreme weather. August's heavy rainfall events and weakened forests due to bark beetle infestations caused extensive damage and exposed the need for improved climate adaptation strategies.

"The 2023 climate assessment shows that it is necessary to adapt as well as possible to the existing and expected future impacts," said Herbert Formayer, lead scientist on the report, in a press release. "Not only the extent of damage but also the risk potential for the population is increasing."


If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles, or news tips for The Local, you can contact us at [email protected] or leave a comment below.



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also