Health insurance companies: How Minister Lauterbach wants to plug the billion-dollar hole - politics

17 billion is a bitter sum, at least for those who have to find it somewhere. Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is in this situation, because the statutory health insurance companies have reported exactly this 17 billion euros as an expected deficit for the coming year. In order to catch it, the Federal Minister of Health presented a draft law that the Bundestag discussed for the first time on Friday.

This "financial stabilization law" is intended to do without cuts in benefits. This is important, especially in times of multiple stress, a deterioration in care is "not communicable," said Lauterbach in his speech to the plenum. Instead, he wants, firstly, to increase the federal subsidy by two billion euros from the last 14.5 billion euros a year. Secondly, the additional contributions should increase. Lauterbach expects an average of 0.3 percentage points. Employers and employees would each pay half of this. Third, they should health insurance companies make a solidarity contribution of four billion euros from their reserves. There should also be changes in the so-called manufacturer discount, which the pharmaceutical companies have to grant the statutory health insurers for certain medicines - it increases from seven to twelve percent for one year. In addition, the additional compensation that doctors receive when they treat new patients is eliminated. This regulation was introduced to get the often very long waiting times for appointments under control, but Lauterbach considers the bonus to be ineffective.

Industry associations have been railing against his plans for weeks, and there was also a lot of criticism from the opposition on Friday. Bavaria's Minister of Health Klaus Holetschek (CSU), who stepped up to the lectern as a representative of the Federal Council, spoke of a "destabilization law" and that increasing contributions were not a good sign. "You are heading for a supply blackout." The AfD criticized that health insurance companies would also be "punished" if they had done solid business. Greens and FDP backed Lauterbach's plans. He made it clear that the proposed law could only be an intermediate step. "After the reform is before the reform." In the long term, the health insurance system needs "a major structural reform," said the Federal Minister of Health.

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