The bill on long-term care reform has been adopted. On Friday, 377 MPs voted in favour, 275 against, with two abstentions.
In order to stabilise long-term care insurance, the law provides for an increase in the long-term care contribution by 1.0 percentage points on 35 July – even more for people without children. Currently, it is 3.05 percent of gross wages, and 3.4 percent for childless people. The care allowance for those in need of care at home, which was last increased in 2017, is to be increased by 2024 percent at the beginning of 5.
Surcharges for those in need of care in the home are also to be increased in 2024. The coalition had recently agreed on a flexibly usable budget, which is intended to facilitate relief for family caregivers from July 2025. For parents of children in need of care with care level 4 or 5, it should be available as early as 2024.
Criticism of the law by the opposition
The opposition had criticized the care reform before the vote as inadequate. What the traffic light coalition is presenting is "a poor on-sight driving," said CDU MP Diana Stöcker in the Bundestag on Friday. It is good that a relief budget is now coming to enable family caregivers to take time out. But they would now have to wait two years. The AfD MP Thomas Dietz spoke of an "emergency operation". Benefit increases would be disproportionate to inflation. The left-wing politician Ates Gürpinar accused the government, among other things: "You burden, you do not relieve the burden."
In the future, childless people will pay 4 percent contribution, parents with more than two children will pay less, and from the third child even less than today. At the same time, services in outpatient and inpatient care are to be improved.
After tough wrangling, the Greens and SPD agreed with the FDP at the beginning of this week that the relief benefits for relatives will be simplified, but for all those in need of care only from mid-2025. For this purpose, benefits will be combined into a relief budget of 3539 euros per year, with which relatives can organize substitutions and short-term care more flexibly than before. For parents of children with care level 4 or 5, this budget will be available as early as next year.
To finance the relief budget, however, the next increase in care allowance planned for 2025 will be lower. It is then to be raised by 4.5 percent instead of another five percent as initially planned. The additional money from the relief budget would be withdrawn from those in need of care in the case of benefits, criticized the CDU politician Diana Stöcker. She described the improvements as "meager".
Lauterbach praises the commitment of the relatives
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) defended his reform. There have been significant improvements for family caregivers, he said, highlighting their commitment. Society can consider itself lucky that so many relatives are dedicated to care. Almost four-fifths of the approximately five million people in need of care in Germany are cared for at home.
Members of the coalition admitted in the debate that they themselves would have liked to see more improvements. It was necessary to prioritize, said FDP MP Nicole Westig, referring to the financial situation. She could have imagined implementing more, but it was still an important law, said SPD MP Dagmar Schmidt. "There is still a lot to be done," Kordula Schulz-Asche (Greens) summed up in the Bundestag debate.
The premium increases bring the long-term care insurance around 6.6 billion euros a year, so this year still half. According to the umbrella association of health insurance companies, long-term care insurance had a deficit of 60.2 billion euros last year with expenditures of around 25 billion euros. According to the draft law, the planned performance improvements will cost about two billion euros a year.
This also means that residents of nursing homes will receive a higher subsidy for their own contribution from January 2024. In the first year of stay, the long-term care insurance then adds 15 percent, today it is five percent. On average, people in need of care now have to pay a good 2,400 euros a month for a place in a home, while long-term care insurance only covers the pure costs of care.