Debate on homeopathy in the Bundestag petitions committee

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Public meeting of the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag. /image alliance, Monika Skolimovska

Berlin – Homeopathic and anthroposophic medicines as well as homeopathic services must remain included as legal benefits in statutory health insurance (GKV). This demand is made by the pediatrician and administrative director of the association Active healthStefan Schmidt-Troschke, in a petition presented by Petitions Committee discussed publicly today.

Schmidt-Troschke referred to a draft Health Care Strengthening Act (GVSG), which included the abolition of homeopathy as a legal service. The exclusion is no longer included in the current GVSG cabinet design. However, Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has repeatedly indicated that this regulation could be reinstated in the parliamentary process.

This concern motivates Schmidt-Troschke and was the reason for starting a petition, which was signed by more than 200 thousand people. At today’s public hearing, he was able to present his view of the debate: members of the Bundestag committee asked him and the parliamentary state secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), Edgar Franke (SPD), asks. Franke, in particular, repeatedly emphasized in his answers that, in his opinion, the question of homeopathy in statutory health insurance does not currently arise, as it is no longer included in the cabinet draft. Furthermore, according to his information, around 70 health insurers currently offer homeopathic services and reimbursement of expenses as a legal benefit, an offer that is not included in standard care;

From Schmidt-Troschke’s point of view, it would be wrong to exclude homeopathic and anthroposophic medicines as well as homeopathic services as legal services. “People want homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine,” he said. A 2023 Allensbach survey shows that at least 60% of people have already had contact with homeopathy. “Homeopathy enjoys a particularly high level of appreciation among the population,” stated the petitioner. It is significant in the debate that the people who use these services and the doctors who offer them are always discussed, but never with those affected themselves.

Schmidt-Troschke also addressed the issue of costs. She made it clear that these were legal benefits financed exclusively with the health insurers’ own resources that offer them. The supportive community is not burdened because it is not a standard benefit. Furthermore, the costs of homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine would be 0.03 percent of the total statutory health insurance expenses. Homeopathy is therefore “very economical”.

Secretary of State Franke also highlighted at the meeting that BMG no longer had any direct influence on the ongoing parliamentary process. “The ball is now not in the court of the ministry, but in the political sphere, that is, with you as a member of parliament,” said Franke. He hopes for a broad public discussion on the topic, in which everyone involved gets involved, said the BMG state secretary, who claims to have personally had good experiences with homeopathic treatments. They could achieve a lot, especially in the field of pediatric medicine, he said.

The reason why the Minister of Health criticizes the possibility of reimbursement is, on the one hand, the lack of scientific evidence of effectiveness, said Franke. Furthermore, patients are left with the impression that this is an effective treatment method. As a result, Lauterbach worries that illnesses may be inadequately treated with conventional medicine. To date, according to BMG state secretary Franke, no homeopathic medicine has been approved by the Federal Institute for Medicines and Medical Devices (BfArM) was approved “when the applicant has proven effectiveness with a study designed in accordance with the recognized state of science and technology”.

From the point of view of the petitioner and the oncologist Diana Steinmann who accompanies him, there is indeed evidence in favor of homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine. Schmidt-Troschke referred to a study led by Thomas Ostermann of the Institute of Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Witten/Herdecke, which was said to have produced a positive result “far beyond the placebo effect”. There are positive effects “that cannot yet be explained scientifically,” said the petitioner. But we should not close our eyes to phenomena just because they cannot currently be explained. Steinmann added that there are currently many research groups busy proving why the positive effects occur.

Together, petitioner Schmidt-Troschke and radiation oncologist Steinmann emphasized the integrative approach. It makes sense to complement modern scientific medicine with well-evaluated and researched procedures, said the managing director of the Gesundheit aktiv association. What is needed is a combination rather than an opposition. “Today we no longer talk about alternative medicine, but rather about integrative medicine,” said Schmidt-Troschke.

The President of the Petitions Committee, Martina Stamm-Fibich (SPD), emphasized that the committee would not make a decision for or against homeopathy today. The first step is to listen to the positions. The committee then deals with the petition in a private meeting and, if necessary, makes a recommendation to the plenary of the Bundestag to deal with the matter. © bee/EB/aerzteblatt.de

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