Corona: Ten billion euros more: Lauterbach’s pandemic expenses are increasing again
Berlin Health Minister Karl Lauterbach will need another ten billion euros for rapid tests, vaccinations and hospital aid this year. This emerges from a template by the Federal Ministry of Finance for the clean-up meeting of the budget committee, which is available to the Handelsblatt.
Accordingly, a further 830 million euros are earmarked for the procurement of vaccines this year. A total of almost 6.3 billion euros have already flowed to the ministry for this purpose in 2022. The SPD politician also receives additional money for the compensation payments to hospitals that lack income due to the pandemic. The costs for this increase by 1.1 billion to 5.7 billion euros.
The Minister of Health will receive new billions for rapid tests, the vaccination regulation and other hospital aid. A total of 8.3 billion euros are added to these items.
In the so-called adjustment session, the budget holders in the Bundestag set the budget for the last time. New expenditure or income is added, elsewhere it is deleted. However, the additional billions for Lauterbach will not increase the new debt. Because the Ministry of Finance had already taken precautions after Lauterbach had approved billions in unscheduled expenditure in the past few months.
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The template for the clean-up meeting now shows how much the expenses for fighting the pandemic will add up this year. The federal government transfers the largest part to the health fund of the statutory health insurance companies, which assume the costs. A total of 30 billion euros will flow from the state treasury to the money pot this year. That’s more than ever.
Lindner does not want to pay for corona vaccinations permanently
Almost four billion euros are intended for the free citizen tests, which were extended until the end of June. By the end of November, 2.3 billion euros will go to places such as medical practices to administer the vaccine. Another cost factor of 1.6 billion euros is the supply surcharge for hospitals.
In view of the rising expenses, the budget holders of the traffic light factions called on the SPD minister to exercise discipline last week. The Federal Ministry of Health should use a forecasting tool to better determine the actual vaccine requirement for further vaccine procurement, it is said. Because the vaccination campaign is faltering, millions of doses are at risk of being wasted.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has already made it clear that he does not want to keep making money for corona management in the coming year. At the moment he still has to pay for the free citizen tests and vaccinations from the household, Lindner said recently at an event and added: “These are special charges that will end next year.”
Health insurance companies should cover vaccination costs
The long-term goal is for the statutory health insurance companies to cover the costs of the corona vaccination – as they do for other vaccinations. However, the idea harbors potential for conflict. The chairwoman of the board of directors of the AOK federal association, Carola Reimann, warned against the Handelsblatt a “lead time and adjusted regulations”.
She assumes that the corona vaccination will be part of the benefits of statutory health insurance in the future. “Here, too, the goal is patient-safe vaccination schemes, standard market vaccine prices and appropriate remuneration for procurement and vaccination,” she said.
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However, the “transition does not work overnight”. As an example, Reimann cites negotiations with doctors, who have so far been able to claim 36 euros for a corona vaccination, but only receive eight euros for a flu vaccination. Since trouble with the general practitioners is inevitable, which would lose income.
The Central Association of Statutory Health Insurance was more reluctant to comment on the subject. “Since fighting the pandemic is a state task, financing vaccinations as part of the fight against the pandemic is also a state task,” a spokesman told the Handelsblatt.
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