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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 217 - 231
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure
 Header Item Medical Card Application Numbers
 Header Item Medical Card Application Numbers
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Health Insurance Prices
 Header Item Care of the Elderly
 Header Item Medical Waste Disposal
 Header Item Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Health Services Staff Issues
 Header Item Health Services Staff Training
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Pharmacy Services

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 217 - 231

Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure

 217. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the way he will make €20 million savings in procurement in 2013; the procurement savings that have been made to date in 2012; the anticipated outturn for procurement savings in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55701/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Delivery of procurement savings is a service matter. Therefore your question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to you.

Medical Card Application Numbers

 218. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of additional medical cards he anticipates being granted in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55707/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The information requested by the Deputy will form part of the Health Service Executive 2013 National Service Plan, which is required to be published on foot of the Executive's allocation under the Estimates 2013 process.

Medical Card Application Numbers

 219. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of additional general practitioner cards he anticipates being granted in 2013, not including those over 70 years who are losing the automatic entitlement to a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55708/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The information requested by the Deputy will form part of the Health Service Executive 2013 National Service Plan, which is required to be published on foot of the Executive's allocation under the Estimates 2013 process.

Medical Card Eligibility

 220. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of persons aged over 70 years that will lose their entitlement to a medical card in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55709/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White At present, people over 70 are entitled to a medical card if their income is less than €700 per week for a single person or €1,400 for a couple. In line with measures announced in Budget 2013, the income limits are being reduced to €600 a week for an individual and €1,200 a week for a couple. This will mean that a single person with an income under €600 per week or a couple with an income under €1,200 per week, will still qualify for a medical card. If a single person has an income of between €600 and €700 per week, or a couple has an income of between €1,200 and €1,400 per week, they will qualify for a GP visit card instead of a medical card.

It is estimated that these changes will affect about 20,000 persons out of 360,000 over-70's medical card holders. This is about 5% of the entire over 70's population. Under the new arrangements, it is envisaged that 92% of the over 70's will retain their medical cards.

Health Insurance Prices

 221. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the way the Programme for Government pledge to reduce the costs of delivering private healthcare will be fulfilled through the health budget for 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55710/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Government is committed to keeping down the cost of health insurance so that it is affordable for as many people as possible and remains committed to protecting community rating, whereby everyone pays the same price for the same health insurance product, irrespective of age or health status. The Programme for Government contains a commitment to put a permanent scheme of risk equalisation in place. This is a key requirement for the existing private health insurance market and is designed to keep health insurance affordable for older persons and to maintain the stability of the market.

I was pleased, therefore, to recently publish the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2012 on 18 October, to give effect to a new Risk Equalisation Scheme (RES) to be applied from 1 January 2013. An effective and robust RES is required in the Irish private health insurance market in order to protect affordability for those who need it most. The Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2012 is now currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Scheme will take effect from 1 January 2013. The legislation provides for a range of credits to be payable to insurers on behalf of insured persons. I recently announced the rates of risk equalisation credits to apply in 2013 at the Committee Stage debate on this Bill.

The rates are funded by a stamp duty payable by all insurers in respect of each insured person. The credit is provided at source – that is, the cost of the policy is reduced by the amount of the risk equalisation credit. The measures are designed to result in no overall increase of premiums paid in the market and to spread the risk more evenly between the healthy and the less healthy, as well as the old and the young. This action is in line with plans to move to Universal Health Insurance, under which everyone will be insured for health care. A strong system of risk equalisation must be in place in order for this to be achieved. A more efficient, cost effective market will lead to greater competition and will encourage people to take out health insurance. The introduction of the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2012 fulfils the commitment made in the Programme for Government to introduce a system of risk equalisation for the private health insurance market, as we move to develop a new system of universal health insurance.

As part of Budget 2013, I announced further detail on legislation to provide for the charging of all private patients in public hospitals. Primary legislation will be introduced during 2013 to provide for charging of private in-patients in public hospitals where they are not in a designated private bed. On that basis, Budget 2013 has provided for additional patient income of €60 million in 2013. The implementation date will be announced during 2013 when the new legislation is in place. In the meantime, the maintenance charges for private in-patients in public hospitals remain unchanged. An additional €5 million in patient revenue during 2013 arises from increasing the daily in-patient charge by €5 from €75 to €80. The date of implementation will also be announced later in 2013. These measures are designed to recoup some of the cost of treating private patients in public hospitals and to generate much needed income for the public hospital system.

The Government remains committed to keeping down both the cost of health insurance, so that it is affordable for as many people as possible, and the general cost of healthcare delivery, as part of measures to ensure the sustainability of the private health insurance market in the transition to a UHI system.

Care of the Elderly

 222. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the additional funding that will be provided for the care of older persons in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55711/12]

 223. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the additional home care packages that will be provided in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55712/12]

 224. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the additional home help hours that will be provided in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55713/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 to 224, inclusive, together.

Protecting the vulnerable, including supporting older people to remain at home and in their communities for as long as possible, is a priority for this Government. The issues raised by the Deputy in relation to services for older people are being considered at present in the context of finalising the HSE Service Plan 2013. The position on each of the questions raised will be reflected in the forthcoming Service Plan, which will be published in the near future.

Medical Waste Disposal

 225. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the total tonnage of medicines collected under the medicines DUMP scheme since its inception to date; the estimated monetary value of all the medicines collected under the scheme; the monetary amount spent by the Health Service Executive on administering and promoting the DUMP scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55732/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly (DUMP) service is organised by the Health Service Executive. The HSE has therefore been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility

 226. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to recognise Fibromyalgia as a long term illness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55747/12]

 228. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to recognise chronic fatigue syndrome as a long term illness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55749/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 228 together.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme.

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €132 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

Health Services Staff Issues

 227. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to educate persons particularly medical professionals on best practice on treatment of and diagnosis of Fibromyalgia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55748/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Fibromyalgia is a distinct condition under the international classification of diseases which is the international standard by which diseases are classified and is accepted by Ireland and is endorsed by the World Health Organisation. The diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia is a matter for clinicians in the Primary Care and hospital settings. The HSE is responsible for clinical services and my Department has requested that the clinical programme revert to you directly on this issue.

  Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 226.

Health Services Staff Training

 229. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to educate persons particularly medical professionals on best practice on treatment of and diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55750/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I have no direct role in the issue raised by the Deputy. The content of educational programmes for medical practitioners is a matter for the medical schools subject to approval by the Medical Council. I have asked the Health Service Executive to provide the Deputy with information regarding current service provisions for this condition.

Health Services Provision

 230. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if, as requested by Spina Bifida suffers and advocates, a consultant paediatric urologist will be made available to children with Spina Bifida; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55751/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to this particular issue, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Pharmacy Services

 231. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding pharmacy charges [55757/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive is responsible for the administration of the General Medical Services Scheme and community drug schemes. The HSE has therefore been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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