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Care reform decided: “No perfect law”


After a long struggle, the Bundestag passed the care reform. The Union criticizes the changes as “poor on-sight driving” – and not only the opposition do not go far enough.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach began the final debate on the reform with a look at the care system in Japan. The country with the oldest population in the world relies on robots for care, but according to the SPD politician: “There is no robot that can replace the attention, charity, care of a human being. We always have to keep that in mind .”

Lauterbach called the German care system “the pearl of the welfare state” and emphasized the importance of caregivers and caring relatives. He expressly thanked them and once again campaigned for the reform, even if he saw a need for further reform:

I know this law is not a perfect law and we will move on. In a year we will broaden the basis of financing long-term care insurance. We agreed on this in the traffic light government.

Further steps planned

In a tough struggle, the coalition had agreed on improvements and simplifications for those in need of care and caring relatives, as well as their financing. Kordula Schulz-Asche, the rapporteur on care policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, referred to the most important points:

The nursing allowance will be increased by five percent on January 1, 2024, as will the contribution for outpatient benefits in kind. The care support allowance is a wage replacement benefit for caring relatives in order to be able to organize care at all. In the future, this can be used ten days a year and not just once. We will also at least partially relieve the burden on nursing home residents through grants for their own contributions.

Further improvements are planned for the coming years. A so-called relief budget is also intended to make preventive and short-term care at home easier if the carers need a break and therefore need replacements.

There is criticism of the care reform that the traffic light groups want to bring through the Bundestag today.

“A poor on-sight driving”

This will be financed by higher contributions to long-term care insurance from July. “All this costs money and that’s why we have to increase the contributions by 0.35 percent,” explained the FDP care expert Nicole Westig. For people without children, the contributions increase even more. The FDP had blocked itself against even higher contributions, so the performance improvements remain below what was originally planned by the coalition.

This is where criticism from the opposition comes in. CDU MP Diana Stöcker, for example, complained that the improvements did not include a compensation for inflation. The traffic light parties would have had the chance to present a good law, however: “What they are now presenting to us is not a reform, but poor on-sight driving.”

The federal government wants to relieve those in need of care and their relatives financially – but is that enough?

“Real cut back on the people who are affected”

Ates Gürpinar from the Left Party also criticized insufficient improvements. The care support and relief law does not live up to its name: “Since the last increase in funds for care services in 2017, we have had an increase, inflation of 17 percent. They will only increase from next year, and then only by five percent. Real cut back on the people affected by care.”

And for the AfD, Thomas Dietz criticized a lot of bureaucracy: “Well-intentioned, but immature and in parts written past practice.”

The final debate before the approval showed: The care reform brings better benefits and higher contributions – and the insight: The law is only a first step.