Public Policy

November 5, 2021

The traffic light is green – at least for cannabis

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The election is over, the Merkel era is history. As glorified as the past often looks in the rearview mirror: much has remained unresolved. A sober look from outside Germany reveals the construction sites where no construction work has been seen in this country for a long period. There is a need for reform in the healthcare sector, public sector, infrastructure projects and the energy turnaround, among many others. The labor market will come under increasing pressure from both demographic change and digitization. And the pension system will also have to change to avoid a collapse in the near future.

Overall, the signals are pointing to change. But change can only happen if you change direction. As a result, there was a lot of talk before the election about a directional decision. Now, after the election, the question is ‘Which direction will Germany go?’

Let’s first take a look at what we can expect in the field of healthcare if we have to deal with a possible traffic light government under the leadership of Chancellor Scholz from the Social Democrats, SPD. Regardless of who would then be the future Head of the Health Ministry, the SPD is in surprising agreement with both the Greens and the Liberal Democratic FDP on many issues.

Digitization, in particular the integration of all healthcare players and patients, will continue to be driven forward. This can no longer be reversed and thank goodness no one wants that either.

The fact that the production of pharmaceuticals is to be relocated back to Germany or the EU – as a lesson learnt from the past three years, in which important medicines have repeatedly been in short supply – is also unlikely to lead to a coalition dispute. However, it is still unclear whether the new EU authority HERA (Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority), planned as an early warning system for medical emergencies, will be welcomed by all partners as joyfully as it has been by the Greens.

Another lesson seems to have been learnt, hospitals and clinics that performed outstandingly during the pandemic should have better outcomes in the future. But things could still get rough along the way. While the SPD want to open up hospitals to more outpatient and interdisciplinary forms of care, the FDP want to focus on maximum-care and smaller, specialised hospitals and the Greens are planning an entirely new financing system for hospitals that is no longer based solely on case numbers.

All the parties likely to be in power are also unanimous in their view that it is finally time for the controlled legalization of cannabis. This is what fundamentally distinguishes them from the CDU.

And after so much unity among the Government partners in the future, will there be any material that will cause trouble? Absolutely!

While the FDP, for example, continues to back competition between statutory and private health insurance funds, the SPD and the Greens want to replace the two-payer system with a citizens’ insurance system financed on the basis of solidarity. There could hardly be a greater divide.

Furthermore, if the Greens have their way, a new Federal Institute for Health is to be created. The question of how this institute will fit in with the numerous existing institutes, authorities, agencies and ministries that have to do with health has yet to be answered, not to mention the question of what contribution a new federal institute will make to reducing bureaucracy. 

When it comes to health and a possible traffic light coalition, change is in the air. But the coming months will show whether the parties have the courage, the will and the commitment to reach an understanding in order to achieve a real change of direction. 

We would be happy to discuss the possibilities and effects of a future healthcare policy on your company so please get in touch.

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