Many hospitals are stuck with high energy costs
Ka hospital has to leave the market because of the sharp increase in energy costs: this is what the Federal Minister of Health promised Karl Lauterbach (SPD) in mid-December in the Bundestag. On that day, he not only decided on the gas and electricity price brakes, which benefit not only private households but also clinics, but also a separate aid fund for hospitals of 4.5 billion euros. The money comes from the Economic Stabilization Fund, for which the federal government has taken out loans of 200 billion euros. At the beginning of next year there should be another 1.5 billion euros for the clinics.
However, it is now becoming apparent that many hospitals will not or hardly benefit from the funds from the aid fund. The reason is that the discounts for electricity and natural gas from March 2022 were set as the reference date. The difference to the costs from October to December 2022 is decisive for the amount of financial aid. In March, however, the energy costs in the clinics had already risen sharply, argued Gerald Gass, CEO of the German Hospital Association, in a letter to the Federal Ministry of Health, which is available to the FAZ. The result, according to Gass: Numerous hospitals could not claim any support.
Many Hessian clinics do not take advantage of the help
Just like the Hochtaunus clinics with their three locations in Bad Homburg, Königstein and Usingen. Around 483,000 euros were incurred for natural gas, district heating and electricity in March 2022, reports Managing Director Julia Hefty. Extrapolated over three months, that makes almost 1.45 million euros. The costs in the period October to December amounted to 1.41 million euros, so they were even lower. Two factors played a role here, says Hefty: On the one hand, prices were higher in March, and on the other hand, consumption was lower in the fall due to energy-saving measures. Originally, the clinic’s managing director had hoped to receive 90,000 euros as support. But then the point in time of the comparison was changed in the legislative process.
Apparently, other houses are doing the same as the Hochtaunus clinics, which is why the Hessian Hospital Society is currently conducting a survey of all Hessian clinics. So far, information from 44 percent of the hospitals is available, reports a spokeswoman on request. Initial conclusions indicated that only a small part of the funds earmarked for the Hessian clinics amounting to 335 million euros will be used: specifically 3 percent. The spokeswoman emphasizes that this is a first trend. The hospitals should have applied for help from the AOK Hessen by the beginning of February, which is now evaluating the applications. Nevertheless, it already seems clear that many hospitals will go away empty-handed. This is likely to hit some of them painfully: According to the German Hospital Society, 60 percent of hospitals expect to be in the red in 2022.
In his letter to the Federal Ministry of Health, the chairman of the umbrella organization of hospital operators therefore calls for the original reference value – the costs in 2021 – to be used. Alternatively, an opening clause for a hardship test by the state is also conceivable. “These are not regrettable isolated cases,” said Gass. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, however, there are no plans to change the comparison period. A spokesman said on request that it was also planned in the aid fund for the care facilities. An earlier reference period would also not take into account “customary market adjusted price increases up to 2024 that would have occurred even without the war in Ukraine”. The speaker points out that general price increases must be taken into account within the system. The clinics criticize that this is not happening enough. The German Hospital Society complains that, beyond energy, the costs in the clinics have risen by 10 percent. The 2 percent increase in flat rates per case does not compensate for this.