Söder’s hospital protective shield from 2018 was never implemented – Bavaria

Despite an announcement by Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) in 2018, there is still no protective shield for small hospitals in financial difficulties in Bavaria. “There is no reason for the Free State to participate in the deficit compensation for hospitals in general,” says a response from the Ministry of Health to a request from the SPD in the state parliament, which is available to the German Press Agency in Munich. The federal government must ensure that the framework conditions are right for adequate financing of operating costs.

In his government statement in December 2018 – i.e. shortly after the state elections at the time – Söder explained in the plenary session: “We are putting up a protective shield over small hospitals in the country. For those clinics that are newly set up, we will assume 85 percent of the operating deficits for three years . In this way, many small hospitals can be preserved. Bavaria is worth it.”

However, there was financial support for the clinics from the state government, as the Ministry of Health announced: the state government had around 15.5 million euros in 2019, around 21.5 million euros in 2020 and around 23.6 million euros in 2021 and 23 in 2022 .4 million euros paid for deficit compensation for maternity wards. However, this aid package was launched at the end of 2017 – well before Söder’s promise. It provides for reimbursement of up to 85 percent of the deficits of smaller maternity wards in rural areas.

The Free State also contributes to the investment costs of the clinics through funds that it makes available as part of the municipal financial equalization scheme. “In response, the Ministry of Health wants to push the buck to Berlin once again,” said SPD faction leader Florian von Brunn. Apparently, even Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) “doesn’t even know anymore what Söder promised”. In addition, the ministry “for the future” promised a funding program for clinics in rural areas. “In German that means: not much has happened so far! A typical case of Södern.”

Health Minister Holetschek says the plans have been overtaken by the Corona crisis

When asked by dpa, Holetschek explains: “The funding program to support the municipalities in structural improvements in their clinics in rural areas was simply overtaken by the corona pandemic at the time.” In order to cope with the crisis, the system had to be quickly stabilized and the hospitals had to be geared to coping with the corona pandemic. Holetschek: “Under these circumstances, restructuring was out of the question. Rather, we had the clinics mobilize all available capacities and even used rehabilitation facilities for acute inpatient care.” Under these conditions, the funding program would have come to nothing.

In order to be able to better support the hospitals in the state, von Brunn called for the so-called investment cost flat rate to be increased from around 640 million euros a year to around one billion euros a year. “In this way we ensure good hospital care in Bavaria – especially in rural areas. That’s better than just pointing the finger at Berlin,” he said. According to Holetschek, it currently makes no sense to catch up on the promised funding program because of the uncertainties resulting from the planned federal hospital reform. However, since the financial requirements are higher than ever due to inflation and increased energy costs, “the Free State is helping the clinics with a Bavarian hardship fund”.

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