The political handling of Long Covid was hotly debated in the Bundestag on Thursday. The Union had prepared an application for more research and better patient care. When this was tabled in Parliament, there was an exchange of blows.
“Unfortunately, for thousands of those affected, the pandemic is not over yet, but is still having an effect,” said Tino Sorge, health policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. “Where are the 100 million for research?” asked Sorge, with a view to a corresponding announcement by Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) a few weeks ago. “Where are the studies, where are the counseling and care offers?”
The accusation: “taunting”
Representatives of the traffic light coalition indignantly rejected the accusation that the government was doing too little for those affected. The Union’s application contained nothing new and was nothing more than a hodgepodge, said SPD MP Herbert Wollmann, doctor and member of the health committee.
I would caution against saying that there will be quick and easy fixes only if we put a hundred million in the pot instead of ten million.
Herbert WollmannSPD health politician
Union politician Sorge accused him of “mocking” those affected, which Wollmann angrily rejected. With some projects, it is not as easy as the Union imagines. “We take those affected very seriously,” said Wollmann. At the same time, he explained that more and more money is not the answer: “I would like to warn against saying that there will be quick and easy solutions only if we put hundred million in the pot instead of ten million.”
A new supply guidelines are in the works in the Federal Joint Committee. This is an organ of self-government in the healthcare system with decisive decision-making power.
In view of the lively debate between the Union and the SPD, Stephan Brandner, parliamentary director of the AfD parliamentary group, requested Health Minister Lauterbach to be summoned, which Parliament has the right to do. The Union voted for it together with the AfD, except for one MP who abstained. However, the motion was rejected with the majority of the traffic light coalition and the Left Party abstaining.
Derailment of the AfD deputies Baum
AfD MP Christina Baum gave a highly polemical speech that ended in a sexualised animal comparison addressed to an unnamed MP. Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens), who chaired the meeting, later criticized Baum after reviewing the preliminary protocol for this comparison, but did not express any formal regulatory measures.
Green MP Linda Heitmann steered the debate back to the topic after Baum’s speech. She accused the Union of “populist exploitation”. Everything that is necessary is already being addressed in various legislative projects or in the budget deliberations. She also referred to the Federal Joint Committee. This is commissioned to define care structures for post-Covid sufferers and diagnostic criteria by the end of the year.
Who are we as a parliament to develop new rehabilitation offers?
Linda HeitmanGreen MP
The Union accused Heitmann of overshooting the mark. For example, with the request contained in the application that rehabilitation therapies should be developed. “Who are we as a parliament that we are developing new rehabilitation offers?” asked Heitmann. Others in the health system are responsible for this. A lot has already been achieved, also because those affected keep bringing the topic into the public eye. “Populism and shop window applications won’t get us anywhere,” said Heitmann.
Kathrin Vogler, health policy spokeswoman for the left-wing faction, supported the CDU/CSU motion. Her group will agree that it is “very commendable” that the Union submitted the application. Apparently, the Union “completed a learning curve” in the opposition after previously ignoring the issue. Vogler said that many doctors are unsure how to deal with those affected. There is a dramatic under- and incorrect supply.
I’m fed up with the fact that politicians don’t have more understanding for this disease.
From the letter of a sick 14-year-old
The CDU MP Diana Stöcker brought in the perspective of such an affected person. She reported on 14-year-old Kalea, who fell ill with ME/CFS after two corona infections. Kalea has not been able to go to school for more than two years. On bad days, her parents would have to carry her around the apartment. On a good day she could sit up in bed. It is often too exhausting for her to listen to her siblings’ soft stories. She hardly ever leaves the family home, and if she does, then only in a wheelchair.
“I’m fed up that the politicians don’t have more understanding for this disease,” Stöcker quoted from a letter from the girl to her. “We made the application for these children. It’s not a shop window application,” said Stöcker.
The debate in the Health Committee continues. The Union’s request was transferred there after the end of the debate.
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