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Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subventions.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 165. Mr. Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  the position of nursing home subvention for a person in a general public hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter in relation to the person's actual costs. [10365/02]

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): Information on Tom Moffatt Zoom on Tom Moffatt The Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, which came into effect on 1 September 1993, has two principal objectives. The first is to ensure high standards of accommodation and care in all nursing homes registered under the Act, and the second is to provide a new system of nursing home subvention so that dependent persons most in need of nursing home care will have access to such care. There is no provision in the legislation for the payment of a subvention for a patient in a general public hospital. Nonetheless, if people in a public hospital wish to enter a private nursing home, it is open to them to apply for a subvention towards the cost of their care. Application forms are available from each health board.

Entitlement to health services in Ireland is primarily based on means. Under the Health Act, 1970, determination of eligibility for medical cards is the responsibility of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board other than for persons aged 70 years and over, who are automatically eligible for a medical card. Medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the chief executive officer, are unable to provide general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants without undue hardship.

Income guidelines are drawn up to assist in the determination of a person's eligibility and these are revised annually in line with the consumer price index. However, the guidelines are not statutorily binding and even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may still be awarded if the chief executive officer considers that his/her medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. It is open to all persons to apply to the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board if they are unable to provide health services for themselves or their dependants without hardship.

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