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Germany passes biggest care reforms in two decades

The German Bundestag has passed the second stage of the country's Care Reform bill with a coalition majority. However, the legislation has been met with criticism from the opposition.

The reforms mark the largest reorganization to Germany's nursing care insurance system since it was introduced in 1995.

People with dementia look set to benefit from the changes, with higher outputs aiming to provide help earlier, and to an additional 500,000 patients - especially those who are cared for at home or by family.

The previous three differing levels of care will also be extended to five. German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe (CDU) insisted that that nobody in need of care would be worse off as a result of the reform, adding that it was a "milestone for better care."

Criticism from the left

The first Care Support Act went into effect earlier this year. Under the two reform stages funding to nursing care will be increased from 2.05 to 2.55 percent from 2017 - around 5 billion euros ($5.4billion).

Although the majority of parliament's coalition voted in favor of Gröhe's reform on Friday, Germany's Left party voted against the amendment, and the Greens abstained.

The opposition says that despite the improvements for dementia patients, the reforms don't go far enough. The Greens have demanded more staff, while the Left party has criticized the legislation, describing it as "no great success."

ksb/rc (dpa, kna)

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