Extension of the Corona citizen tests costs more than one billion euros

Test center in Hamburg

Since a new regulation in the summer, there have only been free citizen tests for certain risk groups.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin With the extension of the test regulation planned by Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD), the federal government will again incur billions in costs. The Budget Committee of the Bundestag expects that another 1.28 billion euros will be needed for the project.

The Greens budget politician Paula Piechotta told the Handelsblatt. According to the Federal Social Security Office, the federal and state governments have already spent more than 16.4 billion euros on corona tests.

The assumption of costs for the citizen tests is now to be extended beyond November 25th until the end of February 2023, albeit in a much slimmed-down form. This emerges from the draft for the new test regulation.

According to this, the federal government only covers the costs for the rapid antigen tests that are incurred, for example, by staff in medical facilities, visitors to hospitals, rehabilitation and care facilities, and people who work in outpatient care services. The test should also remain free of charge if you want to test yourself from isolation because of a Covid disease.

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Green politician Piechotta welcomed “the fact that the remuneration for the tests will be adjusted to reality and reduced in view of the reduced costs of the test centers”. Nevertheless, according to a decision made on Thursday, the Budget Committee only released the funds under two conditions.

Costs for citizen tests under criticism

On the one hand, the financing of the costs for an exemption test from federal funds must end earlier than planned, namely on January 15th of the coming year. In addition, a “detailed report” on the costs incurred since the summer of 2022 should be submitted to the budget committee by the end of January, as the decision states. “With our stipulation, we are also increasing the transparency of the costs of the test centers,” said Piechotta.

Karl Lauterbach (SPD)

According to a decision made on Thursday, the budget committee only releases the funds under two conditions.

(Photo: dpa)

Since a new regulation in the summer, there have only been free citizen tests for certain risk groups. As a rule, you have to pay three euros out of your own pocket for a quick test: for example before going to a concert, larger family celebrations or visiting older people.

However, the costs of the tests have long been the subject of criticism. Most recently, the FDP budget expert Karsten Klein called for federal funding to be stopped. The countries are free to decide on their own test measures and to finance them themselves, he told the “world”. The Union health expert Tino Sorge (CDU) said it makes more sense to specifically support sensitive areas with tests, such as nursing homes and clinics.

The Federal Court of Auditors repeatedly accused the Federal Ministry of Health of being too lax with taxpayers’ money. In the letter from February, the authority reports “structural procedural deficiencies”.

The free citizen tests caused billions in costs, while at the same time there was a lack of “federal control options”. In addition, there is no “clear legal basis” for the expenditure, which according to the Social Security Code is actually only limited to 2021.

More: “Structural deficiencies” – the Court of Auditors reprimands Lauterbach’s ministry for corona tests

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