German parliament adopts health reforms

The German parliament approved on Friday the country's health reform bill, one of the key aims of Chancellor Angela Merkel's "grand coalition," after months-long debate, local reports said.

The lower house Bundestag approved the controversial legislation in a 378-207 vote as some lawmakers from the ruling coalition parties even chose to reject the reform, German news NTV reported.

Still, Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said she was satisfied with the result.

"It's a good majority," she said.

Under the legislation, a new central health fund will be created by 2009 which are expected to cover every German citizen. There are currently about 300,000 people in Germany remain uninsured.

The fund, which will be redistributed to the insurance companies, is also expected to inject more competition into the insurance business, said the report.

However, some oppositions said the reform would fail to reduce the non-wage labor costs for health insurance, one of the original aims of the reform.

The law will come into effect on April 1 if the Bundesrat, Germany's upper house, also approves it on Feb. 16.

Source: Xinhua

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