Free GP care legislation promised

Dr Reilly admitted the extension of free GP care had been delayed by complexities involved in drawing up the legislation.

Dr Reilly admitted the extension of free GP care had been delayed by complexities involved in drawing up the legislation.

Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 00:00

Legislation to provide free GP care to people with long-term illnesses will be published in the current Dáil term, according to Minister for Health James Reilly.

The move, which is the first phase in the Government’s plan to extend free GP care to all, was promised to take place in the Government’s first year.

Dr Reilly admitted today the extension of free GP care had been delayed by complexities involved in drawing up the legislation. This is because access to a medical card is being defined on the basis of an illness instead of being based on means, as heretofore.

“However, we’re nearly there and the legislation will be published within this session,” he said this morning.

He was speaking at a briefing to coincide with the publication by his department of two documents setting out its plans for health service financing.

One policy document sets out the Department’s plans to introduce a new “money follows the patient” form of hospital financing from next year. The second is a preliminary paper setting out the Government’s plan for introducing Universal Health Insurance as promised in the Programme for Government.

The new systems won’t directly impact upon patients but the Department says they should result in more efficient budgeting and, ultimately, improved services for the public.

Dr Reilly said “money follows the patient”, which will replace the current system of block grants for hospitals, is a key building block for UHI and would also deliver significant benefits in its own right.

“The system will provide a fairer and more transparent basis for funding hospital services. It will drive greater efficiency in the delivery of services and will ultimately support the provision of quality care in the most appropriate setting.”

“Work is advancing across all areas of the reform agenda. The preliminary paper on UHI provides a progress report on the work we have done so far. It also maps out the critical actions and initiatives to be delivered in the year ahead.”

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