Mr. Rüddel, fortunately the large number of Covid 19 patients has so far not materialized. However, in practices and hospitals this leads to the bizarre situation that too little has to be done because normal patients stay away for fear of infection and because operations that can be planned are postponed at the same time. Therefore, short-time work is increasingly being requested. Do you think that’s right?
No, because we have decided in the Bundestag and Bundesrat a generous rescue package just in case beds and waiting rooms are empty. Now, to put it bluntly, I consider it indecent to apply for additional short-time work benefits.
The clinics are reimbursed by the state for 560 euros per day for an empty bed. Houses that have applied for short-time work, for example the Marienhaus group of companies in their constituency, consider this to be far too little. They demand 700 euros. Wouldn’t that be appropriate?
Not at all. We discussed this in the health committee: For maximum care providers such as university hospitals, the 560 euros may be marginal, but for all other hospitals this is acceptable if it is not even an overpayment. Sometimes the clinics now get more money for a vacant bed than if it were occupied.
So the clinics find themselves healthy in the crisis at the expense of taxpayers’ money and social contributions?
In any case, it cannot be that hospital operators try to remedy the corona crisis. Short-time working means that the staff is not ready when more Covid 19 patients come back. But that’s exactly what we have to ensure. In addition, short-time work demotivates employees because they are expected to cut wages. I am really angry that the Marienhaus group of all people is trying to do this, a Catholic institution with a long history.
How can we prevent the actors in the healthcare system from being relieved twice, through short-time allowance and through the rescue package?
We initially intended to regulate this legally, there was a corresponding working paper. However, this is no longer necessary, because there is a clear instruction from the Federal Employment Agency that practices and clinics that benefit from the protective shield cannot simultaneously apply for short-time work benefits.
What exactly does it say?
It is a so-called technical instruction. It rules out that such resident doctors and clinics who receive funds from the Hospital Relief Act may send their employees on short-time work. The rescue package is therefore a type of business failure insurance. I think this is a very good decision for employees, patients and for contributors and taxpayers.
What’s next now?
I am not sure whether the service providers who have now applied for short-time work are aware of this mutual exclusion. If they get money from the Covid 19 program, the employment agencies will simply drop their applications for short-time allowance. And that’s right.