Bundestag votes for more money for those in need of care
Dhe draft law on care reform has been adopted. On Friday, 377 MPs voted in favor, 275 against, with two abstentions.
To stabilize long-term care insurance, the law provides for the long-term care contribution to be increased by 0.35 percentage points on July 1 – a little more for people without children. It is currently 3.05 percent of gross wages, and 3.4 percent for childless people. The care allowance for those in need of care at home, which was last increased in 2017, is to be increased by 5 percent at the beginning of 2024.
Surcharges for those in need of care in the home are also to be increased in 2024. The coalition had recently agreed on a budget that can be used flexibly, which is intended to ease the burden on caregiving relatives from July 2025. For parents of children in need of care with care grade 4 or 5, it should be available from 2024.
Criticism of the law by the opposition
The opposition had criticized the care reform before the vote as insufficient. What the traffic light coalition is presenting is “poor on-sight driving,” said CDU MP Diana Stöcker in the Bundestag on Friday. It is good that there is now a relief budget to allow caring relatives to take time off. But they would have to wait two years for that. AfD MP Thomas Dietz spoke of an “emergency operation”. Increases in benefits would bear no relation to inflation. The left-wing politician Ates Gürpinar accused the government, among other things: “You burden, you do not relieve.”
In the future, childless people will pay a 4 percent contribution, parents with more than two children will pay less, and from the third child even less than today. At the same time, services in outpatient and inpatient care are to be improved.
After a tough struggle, the Greens and SPD agreed with the FDP at the beginning of this week that the relief benefits for relatives would be simplified, but for all those in need of care only from mid-2025 which the relatives can organize substitutions and short-term care more flexibly than before. For parents of children with care level 4 or 5, this budget will be available from next year.
To finance the relief budget, however, the next increase in care allowance planned for 2025 will be lower. It is then to be increased by 4.5 percent instead of another five percent as originally planned. The additional money from the relief budget would be withdrawn from the benefits of those in need of care, criticized the CDU politician Diana Stöcker. She described the improvements as “poor”.
Lauterbach praises the efforts of the relatives
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) defended his reform. There are significant improvements for caring relatives, he said, emphasizing their commitment. Society can count itself lucky that so many relatives are dedicated to caregiving. Almost four fifths of the approximately five million people in need of care in Germany are cared for at home.
During the debate, members of the coalition admitted that they themselves would have liked more improvements. One had to prioritize, said FDP MP Nicole Westig, referring to the financial situation. You could have imagined implementing more, but it is an important law, said SPD MP Dagmar Schmidt. “There is still a lot to be done,” summarized Kordula Schulz-Asche (Greens) in the Bundestag debate.
The contribution increases bring the long-term care insurance around 6.6 billion euros a year, so this year half. According to the Central Association of Health Insurance Funds, long-term care insurance had a deficit of EUR 2.25 billion with expenditures of around EUR 60 billion last year. According to the draft law, the planned performance improvements will cost around two billion euros a year.
This also includes the fact that residents of nursing homes will receive a higher subsidy for their own contribution from January 2024. In the first year of the stay, the long-term care insurance then pays 15 percent, today it is five percent. On average, those in need of care have to pay a good 2,400 euros a month for a place in a home, the care insurance only covers the pure care costs.