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Vaccination requirement threatens to fail due to lack of paper

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The discontent can be read in the statement. On Monday, the Bundestag’s health committee heard from experts and associations about the planned compulsory vaccination. One of the documents submitted in advance secured the attention of the event that otherwise would never have received expert discussion.

The statutory health insurance funds, according to their central association GKV, were unable to fulfill their intended role simply because of a severe paper shortage in Europe.

At first glance, that reads like an excuse from someone who just doesn’t want to, especially since a spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Affairs claimed his company was unaware of the bottlenecks.

The head of the GKV board of directors, Doris Pfeiffer, is quick to clarify one thing: Health insurance companies are not at all against compulsory vaccination. They simply pointed out practical problems. There really are. Because, firstly, the paper shortage is not a mere invention and, secondly, the cash register argument is much more extensive.

To start with the paper crisis: Printing of newsprint, books and brochures has been scarce and expensive since last year. On the one hand, the causes are coronavirus-related problems in supply chains, because many preliminary products come from China.

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On the other hand, a fatal circle is turning in the recovered paper market: with fewer and fewer newspapers being printed, there is a growing lack of suitable recovered paper to produce new printing and writing paper. However, according to information from the relevant industry association, the crisis has not gone so far that it is no longer enough for correspondence: “We can deliver”, says a spokesman for the paper industry.

But the question of where the material should go for twice 60, that is, 120 million letters to its insured in a short time, is only part of the objections raised by the compulsory health insurance system.

Cash registers do not want to become auxiliary police

Above all, they refer to the most momentous of the five bills. Like Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (both SPD), he sees a general obligation to be vaccinated from the age of 18.

Even the fact that the health funds are obliged to clarify the vaccination status of each member and to report breaches of duty goes against the essence of the association: monitoring is a state task, the health funds are not ” health or regulation. authorities”. Above all, they were practically unable to perform the task.

They don’t have all the addresses – about 16 million addresses are unavailable – nor do they have enough printing capacity to send up to 1.8 million letters a week. In short: it doesn’t work as the applicants imagined.

In principle, the health insurance companies, like most other associations and invited experts, support the attempt to increase the low German corona vaccination rate by means of the pica obligation.

At the hearing, virologist Melanie Brinkmann of the Braunschweig Helmholtz Center confirmed her profession’s majority opinion that Omikron probably won’t be the last variant of the virus. To avoid a new high wave in the fall, vaccination gaps should be closed by then.

Others, like the German Hospital Society, call for compulsory vaccination for reasons of fairness: staff can no longer be told they have to be vaccinated, but patients cannot.

[Lesen Sie auch: Lauterbach zur medizinischen Versorgung: „Ich habe mich festgelegt, ich werde nichts streichen“ (T+)]

Lawyer Robert Seegmüller, on the other hand, is skeptical. The president of the Association of Administrative Judges warned that the request for general vaccination from the age of 18 would not prosper in court. The danger of new variants and overloads is not sufficiently documented. This unpredictability, which is certainly unfortunate in legal terms, is of course part of the nature of the virus.

Whether the Bundestag decides on vaccination in April and which ones remain open anyway. So far, none of the five motions has a majority. Possibly, as CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja pointed out on Monday, the decision will only be made during the voting process. Because first, according to the rules of Parliament, the longest motion is voted on. That would be Scholz’s general vaccination requirement for everyone over the age of 18.

If this bill fails, its supporters can still help another variant to gain a majority in the next vote, such as the Union model of a storage duty, which is only activated when necessary. Compulsory health insurance would be correct. The Union model provides for a vaccination registry based on fiscal data. The boxes would be outside. Tax offices would have to deal with the avalanche of paper.

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