German government pledges energy cost support to hospitals
n-tv / Der Spiegel
Hospitals and other public health institutions in Germany will receive financial support from the state to cope with rising energy prices, health minister Karl Lauterbach said in an interview with news station n-tv. “We don’t want hospitals having to close in autumn because energy is no longer affordable,” the Social Democrat (SPD) minister said, adding that the government would “in no way” let down hospitals and other institutions. Lauterbach said case-based lump compensation that does not factor in inflation would be the main problem hospitals currently face financially, with energy cost hikes adding to the difficulties.
The country’s hospital association, DKG, said on Monday that it feared being forgotten in the government’s energy cost relief packages. DKG head Gerald Gaß told news magazine Der Spiegel that hospitals could not be treated like any other business, as they could not pass on cost increases to patients. “We also cannot temporarily reduce our operations or lower temperatures to save costs,” Gaß said, warning that many hospitals could run into financial difficulties by November.
The German government has introduced several relief packages over the past months and a large 200 billion-euro “defence shield” in late September to protect citizens from skyrocketing energy prices. However, the effects of inflation and higher prices for gas and electricity are widespread and complex, meaning the full scale of challenges arising for the state is difficult to anticipate and requires constant adaptation by lawmakers to catch up with developments. Researchers have warned that the combined effects of the crisis are likely to push Germany into an economic recession next year.