Grohe and schauble want to cut health insurance subsidies

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble (CDU) wants to increase the federal government's subsidy to the statutory health insurance (SHI) system by six billion euros shorter and is meeting with resistance from health insurers, social associations, unions and the opposition. Criticism also came from the SPD as well as health experts from the CDU/CSU. Federal Health Minister Hermann Grohe (CDU), on the other hand, described the money demand of his ministerial colleague as affordable. With reserves of 30.3 billion euros, the health insurance funds have a solid cushion. In addition, the money would flow back into the health fund starting in 2017.

The tax subsidy is set by law at 14 billion euros. With it Non-insurance benefits The SPD's health policy spokeswoman, Hilde Mattheis, said that the social insurance system would have to finance a number of benefits, such as non-contributory coinsurance for dependents, sick pay when a child falls ill, and benefits during maternity leave and pregnancy. The health insurance funds spend around 34 billion euros a year on such services.

There were already plans to cut federal funding for the current year by 3.5 billion euros, which would mean that the SHI would then only receive 10.5 billion euros from the federal government. In 2015, the amount is to be reduced again by 2.5 billion euros to 11.5 billion euros. The background is the high reserves.

However, Health Minister Grohe ared that the allocations to the individual health insurance funds from the Health Fund would not be cut, as the funds would be compensated by the federal government for the shortfall in payments at a later date. The argument that contributions should rise therefore misses the point. In his own words, the health minister has also agreed with Schauble that the money should gradually flow back into the health fund from 2017 onwards. The subsidy should be increased permanently to 14.5 billion euros.

The coalition came up with Criticism . "Budget consolidation at the expense of social security funds is unacceptable," said Hilde Mattheis, health policy spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group. She called on Grohe to stand up to Schauble. SPD parliamentary group vice-chairman Karl Lauterbach told the Reuters news agency: "This sends the wrong signal to health insurance companies that saving money is not worth it."What has been achieved in the form of stable contribution rates for the insured is being taken away again by the cuts.

The health policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Jens Spahn, expressed understanding that Schauble did not want to take on debt to finance the federal subsidy to the health insurance funds, but: "What I don't understand is that, as with the pension, budget promises are made in return for the years from 2017 onwards. As if we could swim in money there."The CDU's Norbert Barthle, on the other hand, said the cuts were justified so that the federal government could get by without new debts from next year on, as planned. The subsidy to the health fund is one of the few Adjusting screws in the approximately 300 billion euro federal budget.

However, the head of the leading association of statutory health insurance, Doris Pfeiffer, warned that a cut in the subsidy would be a "Acceleration program for contribution increases ". The current financial situation of the health insurance funds should not obscure the fact that the gap between income and expenditure will open up again by 2015 at the latest. The health insurance funds point to rising costs for doctors, clinics and medicines, which could cause expenditures to exceed revenues again next year. In 2013, according to the latest figures, health insurers' revenues exceeded expenditures by only about 1.2 billion euros.

The German Federation of Trade Unions spoke of "another raid by the federal government" through the social security funds, which in the end would have to pay dearly for the employees. Left, Greens and social associations expressed themselves similarly.

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