Federal Participation Law: Political visit in the exhibition halls

Interview with Gabriele Lösekrug-Möller, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

10/01/2016

The Federal Participation Law (Bundesteilhabegesetz, BTHG) is also a hot topic at REHACARE: after two lectures on the subject that took place on Thursday, on Friday, Gabriele Lösekrug-Möller, Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, BMAS), visited the trade fair. REHACARE.com spoke with her about the BTHG and her impressions of the trade fair.
Image: Ms. Lösekrug-Möller talks to a visitor; Copyright: beta-web/Dindas

Ms. Lösekrug-Möller gets into a convervastion with visitors of REHACARE; © beta-web/Dindas

What role does the Federal Participation Law currently play in your work?

Gabriele Lösekrug-Möller: It undoubtedly plays a major role and I also find it very fitting considering the importance of this subject! As the Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), I participated in the drafting of this bill at the BMAS on one hand, while also being committed to reaching a consensus on this legislation in the coalition government on the other. In addition, I have engaged in many conversations with affected parties, organizations and responsible authorities, during which the respective hopes, expectations, and apprehensions were presented. Given this diversity of interests, it has been a major task to introduce a well-balanced bill. With this BTHG government bill, the BMAS has risen to this challenge.

What exactly is the objective of the Federal Participation Law?

Lösekrug-Möller: During the coalition negotiations, we already set three objectives we would like to achieve with the BTHG. The bill intends to

  • improve the living situation of people with disabilities, to thereby further develop German laws in reflecting the UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,
  • optimize the collaboration between rehabilitation agencies in terms of providing “one-stop“ services and
  • effectively curb the spending dynamics, most notably in integration assistance by improving controllability and by strengthening priority benefit systems.
The objective we would like to achieve with the BTGH is nothing more and nothing less than a quantum leap: we make the step from assistance to participation – and also to some degree a step from politics for people with disabilities to politics with the participation of people with disabilities. We also want to be measured by this.
Image: Ms. Lösekrug-Möller talks to a visitor; Copyright: beta-web/Dindas

At the stand of BMAS where many visitors, who wanted to talk to Ms. Lösekrug-Möller ins Gespräch zu kommen; © beta-web/Dindas

What areas for improvement are there in the current draft?

Lösekrug-Möller: Currently, the BTHG is being deliberated in the parliamentary committees of the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament). The German Bundesrat (Federal Council) has proposed more than 100 amendments. We also received numerous opinions by organizations that are now evaluated by us. It’s evident that people are primarily concerned with the pool of people eligible for integration assistance and the interface between integration assistance and disability care. In the parliamentary debates, the coalition fractions will now thoroughly investigate where amendments are required and consensus can be reached. We also need to ensure that the BTHG receives the approval by the federal states of the Bundesrat.

On Friday, several activists had scheduled a small T-shirt campaign at the REHACARE. What do you think about these and other protest campaigns on the Federal Participation Law?

Lösekrug-Möller: I think it’s great how emancipated and self-confident Germany‘s disability scene is today. That hasn’t always been the case. In it, I see proof of the growing self-confidence, political commitment and the will to audibly and emphatically advocate for your own interests.

You were at the BMAS booth at the REHACARE on Friday. Why is this trade fair so important to you?

Lösekrug-Möller: The REHACARE is the international trade fair for rehabilitation, prevention, inclusion and care. Time and again, it’s impressive to see the added benefit modern auxiliary aids and care services provide to encouragethe participation of people with disabilities. For me personally, this trade fair provides the opportunity to compare notes with both manufacturers and providers of auxiliary aids and services as well as people with disabilities, their family members, and their organizations. In addition, I find inspirations for me personally and our work in disability policy. Each time, the BMAS staff members who are here every year and I learn new things: sometimes we learn about new technological solutions, other times we make new contacts or take away ideas for projects or other types of collaboration. That’s why every time, the REHACARE is invaluable tome and the BMAS.