With the number of Germans in need of elderly care set to skyrocket, the Bundestag passed a reform bill to address the issue. Those opposed to the idea say it's treating a humanitarian issue like a financial one.
Care for the elderly was the fresh battleground between Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD), as well as the opposition Left and Green parties on Friday. The elderly care reform bill, which will cost the government a further 1.2 billion euro ($1.5 billion) was passed by the Bundestag despite the opposition's argument that, much like October 1's #link:17968207:'brake' on rent, the package was too watered down to be helpful.
With the baby boomer generation starting to enter retirement, experts estimate that the amount of elderly people in need of care will jump from 5.2 million in 2008 to 10.3 million in 2050, and that a further 500,000 full-time positions in the health and care industry will be necessary to meet this demand. The current bill accounts for only 20,000 new care-provider jobs.
The Left and Greens have accused the governing coalition of simply throwing money at the problem, and not having learned anything from the financial crisis. Left party leader Katja Kipping called the reform package "political finance Hari-kari," news agency AFP reports.
Care-industry groups as also worried that these reforms won't provide for all the necessary personnel and resources, and lead to a "cheap version" of elderly care.
Federal Health Minister Hermann Gröhe was very pleased with the government's reform package, however, hailing it as another triumph of Germany's social state, said, "We owe this to the people in our country in need of care."
Hilde Mattheis of the SPD accused the Left and Green parties of harming their constituents in their opposition to the bill. "Everyone who voted negatively today must go home to their districts and say: I didn't vote in favor of creating better care for people who need it."
As of January 2015, taxpayer fees for care insurance will increase from three percent to 2.35 percent, or 2.6 percent for childless workers.
es/shs (AFD, dpa)