Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is planning a new law that could make it difficult for patients to find appointments. An overview.
Kassel – An appointment in a doctor’s office could soon be even harder to get. The background: Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wants to introduce a law that, according to the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, could make it significantly more difficult to find a consultation with a specialist.
Specifically, it is about the so-called new patient regulation. As a result, doctors are paid extra when they take on new patients in their practices. The measure is part of the Appointment Service and Supply Act introduced by Jens Spahn (CDU) in 2019.
Change in medical practices: Karl Lauterbach wants to reverse the new patient regulation
The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians is now warning against the omission. Because the current Health Minister Lauterbach wants to reverse Spahn’s advance. This measure is in turn part of the so-called GKV Financial Stabilization Act, with which Lauterbach intends to compensate for the billions in health insurance deficits. The SPD minister is hoping for savings of up to 400 million euros simply by eliminating the new patient regulation.
Lauterbach’s Financial Stabilization Act: What will change for patients
- Increase income from health insurance companies: grant from the federal government of an additional two billion euros, supplemented by a loan of one billion euros (currently 14.5 billion euros), increase in the additional contribution of the contributors
- Limit spending: Put the brakes on drug costs. Increase manufacturer discount from 2023 and extend the price moratorium for pharmaceuticals. This means that pharmaceutical companies cannot increase their prices at will at the expense of health insurance companies.
- Adjustments to the care budget, repeal of the new patient regulation, capping of fees for contractual dental services
- Source: Federal Ministry of Health
New Lauterbach law: regulation for new patients helped when looking for an appointment
However, the savings measure could have a major impact on patients. The Lower Saxony Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KVN) called the new law “a slap in the face to patients in Germany.” That’s just not true.” Instead, according to the figures from the KVN, every fourth person with statutory health insurance benefited from the regulation.
The loss of funding would mean that “doctors can no longer help but reduce the number of appointments in their practices,” according to the KVN. Since 2019, the practices have “received the full amount for their services without deductions” through the new patient regulation – and have thus been able to expand the range of appointments.
Change in medical practices: Associations of statutory health insurance physicians see a breach of trust in Karl Lauterbach’s law
Previously, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) and the Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KVen) sent a fire letter to Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach. The associations spoke of a “break” in Lauterbach’s promise not to enforce any cuts in benefits, as reported by the ärzteblatt .
“In any case, this process will have long-term effects on our trust in political reliability,” criticize KBV and KVen the change. Their joint letter goes on to say that many open consultation hours in the practices would come to an “abrupt end”. A big problem for the practices: Some have already expanded their consultation hours and, last but not least, hired new staff to be able to care for more patients. The associations see no way “how we can maintain patient care at the current level.”
The draft has already been approved, and according to information from the Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung , the Bundesrat may be dealing with the law as early as September 16th. (pron)