Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach sees a breakthrough in hospital reform

As of: 06/01/2023 4:28 p.m

According to Minister of Health Lauterbach, the federal and state governments are making progress with the hospital reform. Key points are to be worked out before the summer break. Lauterbach hopes that the reform can come into force as early as January 2024.

According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the talks between the federal and state governments on hospital reform went very well. After the meeting, he said both sides agreed on 90 percent of the goals. The “basic structure” of the reform is in place. Key points for the law should therefore be worked out before the summer break in coordination with the federal states. Lauterbach hopes that the reform can come into force as early as January 2024.

There is agreement between the federal and state governments to ensure the quality of the clinics, he said. An agreement has been reached on the basis for the allocation of services. The federal government also wants to stick to uniform quality criteria. No agreement was reached with the countries on this.

Laumann sees the federal government as responsible

According to Lauterbach, there was agreement in principle on the question of hospital financing and hospital planning. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) emphasized that the federal and state governments had agreed on a clear division of tasks: hospital planning – i.e. the question of where there should be more hospitals and where not – is the responsibility of the states.

The federal government, on the other hand, “has its hat on the question of how the operating costs of hospitals are financed,” said Laumann. He hopes that the draft of the reform will be worked out during the summer break, but there are still “differences of opinion on the details”. The chairman of the state ministers, Manne Lucha (Greens) from Baden-Württemberg, nevertheless spoke of great progress overall. “This reform must succeed.”

Three unified hospital levels

An essential part of Lauterbach’s reform plans is that the hospitals are divided into three levels and remunerated accordingly. There should be the categories of basic care close to home, standard and priority care and maximum care. Each hospital should be assigned performance groups. The prerequisite for the allocation is the fulfillment of certain requirements, for example in terms of personnel and equipment. Uniform quality criteria are also planned so that clinics can provide certain services.

The remuneration system should be changed. According to the reform, hospitals should no longer be financed solely by the number of cases. The economic pressure should fall, Lauterbach had previously shared morning magazine from ARD and ZDF explained. He could imagine guaranteeing 60 percent of the hospitals’ remuneration for services of general interest through advance payments. The remaining costs could then be financed depending on the number of cases, according to Lauterbach. Specialization helps the clinics survive.

However, some of the key points of the reform raise serious concerns in the healthcare sector.

Lauterbach: 1719 clinics affected by plans

The industry had recently again warned of the acute financial difficulties of many hospitals. Before the meeting, the Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek asked Lauterbach to revise his reform plans. “I see the current proposals for reform jeopardize the supply close to home, especially in large countries like Bavaria,” he warned.

According to the Federal Minister of Health, 1,719 clinics in Germany are affected by the plans. “We will lose clinics, but without the reform we will lose a lot more and unsystematically,” he told the “Bild” newspaper.

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