HUnderte panel doctors protested in several federal states on Wednesday against the savings plans of Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). Numerous practices therefore remained closed or restricted their operations.
The central association of specialist physicians in Germany called for protests nationwide under the motto #WaituntilTheArztComes. The doctors are opposed to the fact that their fees for new patients, to put it briefly, should only be paid with a discount of around 20 percent in the future.
With the entry into force of the Appointment Service and Supply Act 2019, the practices expanded their consultation hours and the range of appointments and invested in additional services, said the Hamburg radiologist and local leader of the protest campaign, Andreas Bollkämper. In return, the fees for new patients were paid without deductions. If this regulation is now removed, it will inevitably lead to a worse offer for the patients.
According to the Hamburg Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, more than 1,200 panel doctors and employees from practices took part in Hamburg alone. Resident doctors and psychotherapists also protested in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. The North Medical Association assumed that hundreds of practices in Schleswig-Holstein would take part. The Lower Saxony Medical Association declared its solidarity with the protesters. In Baden-Württemberg, physicians from 300 practices opposed the planned change, said the deputy head of the Medi medical association, Norbert Smetak. “Patients will get appointments less quickly and will have to wait longer.”
New patients are people who have not visited a practice for more than two years. If you are referred to a specialist, you are also a new patient there. The background to the turnaround is that the statutory health insurance funds are expected to fall by 17 billion euros in 2023. The abolition of the fee regulation for new patients in practices is part of a planned financial package to compensate for this billion-dollar deficit. In addition, an additional federal subsidy of two billion euros, a reduction in financial reserves at the health insurers and a contribution from the pharmaceutical industry are planned.