HBI Deals+Insights / News

Anti private sentiment – winds of change, or just hot air?

This week, reforms in Germany see us taking another look at the plans of Germany’s controversial health minister Karl Lauterbach. He really doesn’t seem to be a fan of for-profit investors! Are the winds of change coming to flatten the investor landscape – or is he full of hot air?

Having spoken to a number of operators over the last few months about Lauterbach’s proposed changes, and most recently to a very well placed legal source, his latest target – who he charmingly branded “locust investors” – needn’t press the panic button just yet.

For-profits are an easy target for those looking to make political gain. Look to the placards wielded on the streets of Spain last week for evidence that there are few subjects which rile the public more than the perceived threat of encroachment of avaricious for-profits into the sacred health care arena.

But can Lauterbach simply remove investors from the playing board, not least when they are so keenly tied into how the game is played? We believe not.

There are constitutional ramifications, we hear. And a challenge could be raised at the EU level. And the political support needed from coalition partners might not be forthcoming. But there are wider considerations too.

Health care needs to be funded and for-profits in Germany (as with much of Europe) and their investors are a key element of a functioning system. Remove them, and what replaces them? And is it better?

Because for all the criticisms levied at the risks of those seeking maximum profits, the argument is seldom that the for-profit groups are not value for money, or are unable to provide a quality service. Which would be curious were it not for the bald facts that they are, generally, and they do. And to the calm, and the wise, that matters (in private, if not in public).

There is often a political storm and a great deal of posturing around restricting for-profits. We suspect this storm, like many others before it, will blow over leaving little damage.

Curious members can read more about the progress or otherwise of Lauterbach’s proposals, elsewhere in this week’s news.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to David Farbrother or call 0207 183 3779.