Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is a polarizing politician - at least since he became Germany's most sought-after health expert when the corona pandemic broke out. During the pandemic years, there was felt to be no talk show in which the SPD politician did not explain how the then Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, was actually supposed to run his office.
Lauterbach knew the studies, numbers and statistics, knew a lot, some better. When the traffic light took up government work after the general election, there was no getting around him as health minister because of his popularity.
At the time, skeptics pointed out that an eloquent health professional does not necessarily have to be the best head of an agency as large as that of the Department of Health. The law on the financial stabilization of the statutory health insurance companies (GKV), which has to go through parliament on October 20, is proof of this.
The hole that politicians have to plug for 2023 is 17 billion euros. Lauterbach's solution: On the one hand, he goes to the reserves of the health insurance companies. On the other hand, the additional contribution for those with health insurance and their employers should increase by 0.2 or 0.3 percentage points – which would correspond to an additional five billion euros.
The contribution is currently 1.3 percent. Politicians are thus imposing further burdens on citizens, even though they are already suffering from high inflation. However, the minister does not address the fundamental problems of the system.
There are starting points for reforms: the traffic light is still showering hospitals with billions in tax money. It is clear that there are too many clinics.
And even if drug manufacturers complain about the law, quite a few experts believe that they could contribute more than just 1.3 billion euros to savings through the manufacturer discount.
New ideas, on the other hand, are not reflected in the law: experts had suggested that clinics could send patients home overnight if the overnight stay was unnecessary in order to reduce costs.
The consequences can be foreseen: After 2023, the hole in the system will grow to over 30 billion euros. The law as it stands is a pill that numbs the worst symptoms for a year.
However, the measures do not contribute to a recovery or at least a fundamental stabilization of the situation over a longer period of time. For a minister who was so ambitious, that's not enough.
"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.