Column By Thomas Bublitz, Director of the German association of private hospitals (BDPK)
The trial of strength between the federal and state governments over the Hospital Transparency Act and hospital reform continues in the new year. As this impasse continues, the likelihood increases that many hospitals will not survive the political power struggle. The victims will be the patients and employees. For reasons of power calculation, the Federal Minister of Health is taking the hospitals hostage in order to finally persuade the federal states to give in on the Hospital Transparency Act. In my view, this is a questionable move by the Minister, who grandiloquently promised the de-economisation of hospital care. Due to chronic underfunding and the lack of compensation for inflation-related price increases, the majority of hospitals are in a dramatic financial situation and many are threatened with insolvency in the short term.
The only glimmer of hope appears to be recourse to the tax revenues of cities and districts, which ultimately have to ensure hospital care. What has so far been criticised as unfair deficit compensation for municipal hospitals could also be a way out of the dilemma for non-profit and private hospital operators. This is the conclusion of the recently presented legal opinion by Prof. Dr Frauke Brosius-Gersdorf, which was commissioned by the non-profit and private hospital operators. According to the report, all hospitals included in the hospital plan are entitled to compensation for their deficits for reasons of equal treatment, regardless of their ownership. European state aid law also does not permit double standards: either all hospitals are entitled to deficit compensation regardless of their ownership or no one is.
The results of this report could not be presented in a more appropriate and up-to-date way: The federal government refuses to finance operating costs to cover costs and hospitals are suing their local authorities for compensation for operating cost deficits. This means that a new player could soon enter the hospital reform arena.
Read the column in German on the BDPK website