Berlin In order to relieve clinics and nursing home residents in the face of rising prices, von Karl Lauterbach (SPD) led Federal Ministry of Health apparently a wide range of measures under the name "energy package". In the federal government's third relief package, these areas were left empty-handed despite loud calls for help from the healthcare industry.
Lauterbach is said to have agreed with Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) not to include the facilities in the aid programs for companies, but to develop a separate solution. Lauterbachs ministry referred to the sharply increasing personal contributions in nursing homes, through which the higher prices are passed on to residents and relatives.
The low liquidity reserves in clinics are also a problem. In order to prevent insolvencies, the German Hospital Society had demanded inflation compensation for clinics, which would have to shoulder four billion euros in additional costs in the coming year due to rising prices for electricity and gas alone. Lauterbach had therefore announced measures for clinics in the Bundestag at the beginning of September. Apparently he wants to push this forward.
Top jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
However, the size and design of the "energy package" are still unclear. It is likely to be several billion euros. These would have to be financed from the federal budget if the statutory health insurance companies and thus the contributors, who already have to shoulder a huge deficit, are not to be burdened even further.
However, there is still a catch: An agreement with Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) still seems a long way off. Lauterbach's announcements have also been heard in the Federal Ministry of Finance. But: "Officially, nothing has been brought to us so far," says the ministry. There are also "no commitments" to finance such a package.
The budget for the coming year is already being discussed in the Bundestag. Lauterbach could try to get more money from the budget politicians. But an amount in the billions, as the Ministry of Health obviously has in mind, is likely to be difficult. "I have no idea where he gets the money from," says a householder in the traffic light coalition.
Rising energy prices: Nursing care costs up to 500 euros more per month
Aid for nursing home residents would also further burden the state coffers. According to the plans of the Federal Ministry of Health, nursing home residents who cannot finance the increased personal contributions on their own should be entitled to housing benefit. It is about significant amounts for those affected, the ministry said. From talks with operators it is said that the rising energy prices alone would increase the user's own contribution by 300 to 500 euros per month.
The traffic light coalition is planning a reform of the housing benefit, which is to be significantly expanded. Four billion euros have already been budgeted for this.
It is unclear whether the Ministry of Health's plans also include emergency aid for practices, as required by the German Medical Association. Association President Klaus Reinhardt proposed this week a staggered subsidy based on the gas and electricity bills from the previous year, which could be implemented via a federal subsidy to the health fund or the federal government's aid programs.
Health insurance companies expect a deficit of at least 17 billion
Such measures could have been supplemented at short notice in the Financial Stabilization Act for the statutory health insurance funds, which the Federal Government is currently initiating, according to the demand from the hospital associations. In all likelihood, however, it will not come to that. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, the draft will be debated unchanged for the first time in the Bundestag on Friday. Instead, the aid should be implemented separately in view of the need for coordination in the coalition.
With the Financial Stabilization Act, Lauterbach wants to counteract the huge deficit in statutory health insurance in the coming year. The Federal Ministry of Health is assuming a figure of 17 billion euros, but according to health insurance companies, it could be higher due to rising energy prices and a weakening economy.
According to the plans, the average additional contribution of 1.3 percent should increase by 0.3 percentage points, and the health insurance companies should also reduce their reserves by four billion euros. In addition, access to the liquidity reserves of the health fund and cuts for the pharmaceutical industry, doctors and pharmacists are planned. The plans were criticized until the very end.