More money for the hospitals and more support for those affected by the coronavirus – this is how the main points of the ‘Hospital Future Act’ can be summarized, which the Bundestag passed with the votes of the Union, SPD and FDP on Friday morning. Greens and the left abstained, the AfD voted against.
In total, 4.3 billion euros – three billion euros from the federal government, the rest of the federal states and hospital owners – should flow to the hospitals. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) said during the debate in parliament that it was the first time in decades that the federal government put money directly into hospitals. “In 2021, more will be invested in hospitals than ever before.”
The money is mainly intended for the clinics. The law should also benefit people caring for family members who have covid-19 or who are unable to work because of childcare during the pandemic.
In addition, workers in the clinics exposed to particular stress as a result of the pandemic should be supported. 100 million euros will be made available for this from the health fund. The law will enter into force in October; approval by the Federal Council is not required.
Better protection of patient data
An expansion of the “emergency capacity” is planned in the clinics. Investments are also being made in telemedicine, in the digitization of administration and in IT security in hospitals. “Health data is the most sensitive data out there,” Spahn said in support of the reason.
Employees in the clinics who are particularly charged with the care of corona patients should receive special tax-free allowances of up to 1000 euros. Employers and countries can increase the premiums up to EUR 1,500.
“Working in the hospital is and will always be teamwork”, says SPD politician Sabine Dittmar. In principle, cleaning staff are just as eligible for the corona premium as nursing staff. The clinics must make clear, in consultation with the local works council, which employees are entitled to the corona premium. “This can divide the workforce,” criticized left-wing MP Harald Weinberg. In principle, however, the bonus payments are welcome.
Sabine Dittmar is a doctor and member of the SPD group since 2013. Photo: photo alliance / Armin Weigel
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Those who have to combine childcare and work during the pandemic would also be better off with the new law. “Parents must be able to take care of their sick children in a reliable way,” said deputy SPD party chairman Bärbel Bas. The sick days for children are increased from 10 to 15 days, for single parents to 30 days.
“These investments have been neglected for decades”
Even those who need to care for family members suffering from Covid-19 should receive support – not least because the burden on the health system will be eased, as the law says. “With the protective umbrella for healthcare, we are entitled to a maximum of 20 working days for healthcare benefits,” says Bas. This claim is valid for the whole year after September 30th.
With the law, the grand coalition is trying to deal with the effects of the pandemic on the health system: the new requirements for public health protection have limited the “treatment capacity of some hospitals,” as the law says. “Against this background, measures are needed for hospitals to compensate for possible corona-related income shortages and corona-related additional costs if necessary.”
In addition, investments in health care have generally declined in recent years. The grand coalition now wants to compensate for this. “These investments have been neglected for decades,” criticized FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann.
The German Medical Association welcomes the new law in principle, but finds the sum of three billion euros from the federal budget too low. In total, five billion euros is needed.