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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 365-374
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme Issues
 Header Item Regulatory Impact Assessment Usage
 Header Item Medicinal Products Availability
 Header Item Water Fluoridation
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Health Insurance Claims
 Header Item Medical Card Appeals

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 365-374

Capital Expenditure Programme Issues

 365. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the position regarding childcare capital grant 2013 funding in respect of a group (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21543/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I was successful in securing €2.75m in capital funding in Budget 2013 to support the ongoing improvement of the childcare sector via the 2013 Childcare Capital Programme. This programme is being implemented by Pobal on behalf of my Department. Both community not-for-profit childcare facilities and private childcare facilities currently participating in one of the three childcare programmes implemented by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs were eligible to apply for a grant under the Programme. The closing date for applications was 30th April.

I understand that there has been significant interest in the programme, with almost 1,400 applications with a value of more than €6m submitted before the closing date.  Pobal has now commenced the process of appraising all of the applications. Each application is competing on its own merits with every other application received. It is expected that Pobal will be in a position to make recommendations to my Department before the end of June.

Regulatory Impact Assessment Usage

 366. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the action he proposes to take in view of the fact that no regulatory impact assessment was conducted objectively into the review the draft tobacco products directive despite the fact that all Government Departments are mandated to conduct a regulatory impact analysis to objectively look at legislative proposals and examine the reasons for same; the alternatives to it; the cost and the benefits; his views on whether the failure to conduct the impact assessment means that the Government has failed to take into account the impact of the EU proposals in the draft directive on 120 local jobs in a Mullingar factory, County Westmeath, despite jobs being a top priority of this Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21090/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In line with the Regulatory Impact Assessment Guidelines (RIA) published by the Department of the Taoiseach, my Department is undertaking a Regulatory Impact Analysis on the Tobacco Products Directive Proposal. A key element of the RIA process is consultation with key stakeholders. As you are aware a Public Consultation on the Tobacco Products Directive took place earlier this year and my Department has consulted and is continuing to consult with other key Government Departments in relation to this matter. As the Deputy is aware this proposal is currently under discussion by all Member States and at this stage no conclusion has been reached on the particular Article of the Directive which relates to the industry referred to in your question.

Medicinal Products Availability

 367. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will consider reversing the decision made by the National Centre for Pharmaeconomics not to make available pirfenidone for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis based on economic grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21750/13]

 369. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a review is planned for the treatment of ideopathic pulmonary fibrosis with the drug pirfenidone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21788/13]

 370. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 238, 239 and 243 of 18 April 2013, the position regarding the progress of negotiations ongoing in relation to securing Pirfenidone for those diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis; if there is a deadline in place towards finalising these discussions to enable the drug to be provided to patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21938/13]

 371. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he is concerned at the decision of the Health Service Executive to refuse funding, on economic grounds, for the drug Pirfenidone, which is the only effective treatment for lung fibrosis, a rare and extremely debilitating disease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21990/13]

 401. Deputy Paschal Donohoe Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide an update as to when the drug pirfenidone will be available in the Irish market for sufferers of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21451/13]

 402. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his Department will make pirfenidone readily available for sufferers of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; or if his Department will consider providing funding to sufferers of IPD so they can avail of pirfenidone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21459/13]

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. 367, 369 to 371, inclusive, 401 and 402 together.

The HSE has received an application for the inclusion of pirfenidone in the GMS and community drugs schemes. The application is being considered in line with the procedures and timescales agreed last year by the Department of Health and the HSE with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) for the assessment of new medicines.

In accordance with these procedures, the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) conducted a pharmacoeconomic evaluation of pirfenidone and concluded that, at the submitted price, pirfenidone is not cost-effective for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The NCPE report is an important input to assist decision making and informs further discussions between the HSE and the manufacturer of the drug. The HSE is currently in negotiations with the manufacturers of pirfenidone and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment further while these negotiations are ongoing.

The HSE assessment process is intended to arrive at a decision on the funding of pirfenidone that is clinically appropriate, fair, consistent and sustainable. The HSE understands that patients and clinicians are very anxious that a decision be made as soon as possible.

Water Fluoridation

 368. Deputy Dara Murphy Information on Dara Murphy Zoom on Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to change the water fluoridation policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21568/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Water fluoridation and the use of appropriate fluorides is a major plank of public health policy in Ireland in the prevention and management of tooth decay. In 2002 the Forum on Fluoridation, which was established to review this policy, concluded that the fluoridation of public piped water supplies should continue as a public health measure.

The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, established in 2004, monitors new and emerging issues on fluoride and its effects. It advises that the balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms that water fluoridation, at the optimal level, does not cause any ill effects and is the safest and most cost effective method of protecting the oral health of the population. The opinion of the Expert Body is supported by the World Health Organisation; the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Public Health Service and the Surgeon General of the United States; the World Dental Federation; the International Association for Dental Research; the Royal College of Physicians of England and by major international scientifically validated reviews in many countries. The effects of fluoridation on health and related matters are kept under constant review.

  Questions Nos. 369 to 371, inclusive, answered with Question No. 367.

Medical Card Applications

 372. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the review of a medical card will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [21086/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has recently reissued to Oireachtas members.

Health Insurance Claims

 373. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he is considering reducing payments made to doctors if they fail to file private health insurance paperwork on time in view of the fact that it costs the State €61 million per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21094/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Health Service Executive is continuing a drive to reduce the time taken to submit claims to private health insurance companies. It should be noted that the non timely completion of paperwork does not cost the HSE €61m, as the money does get paid. However, it is acknowledged that there is a timing issue and that is what the HSE is focused on. The number of days taken for consultants to complete forms has reduced from an average of 62 days in 2010 to an average of 44 days in 2012 representing an improvement of 29%. The HSE target is 14 working days for consultant sign-off. The percentage of overall insurance debt that is within HSE / Consultant control has decreased from 61% in 2010 to 47% in 2012.

  The HSE is focused on:

 - Continued roll-out of the Electronic Claims Management System in its hospitals. Twelve sites are currently using the electronic claims system representing 51% of overall national claims. Over 80% of claims will be electronic by the end of Dec' 13. This system will address the deficiencies of the paper based process and will also ensure that standardised work practices are implemented across hospitals.

 - Obtaining compliance with the commitment set out in Section 5 (vii) (a) of the document Consultants - Implementing the Public Service Agreement that was issued by the Labour Relations Commission on the 17 Sept 2012. This required “a commitment from all consultants to fully complete and sign private insurance forms within 14 days of receipt of all relevant documentation”.

 - Intense focus by Acute Hospital Management on improving the collection of this key source of funding.

  Significant progress has been made in the last two to three years and there is a plan in place to significantly improve the process further. This will encompass hospital processing and consultant sign-off. There remains a significant challenge in improving the speed of payments from insurers and this is something which the HSE is engaging on with both the insurers and the Department of Health.

Medical Card Appeals

 374. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding a medical card appealin respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the reasons the person has had their card withdrawn before a decision was made regarding their appeal being decided on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21101/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has recently reissued to Oireachtas members.


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