Consultants holding up insurer payments to HSE cannot be named, says report
Brendan Howlin said the plan was that up to 90 per cent of claims would be made electronically by December.
The Government cannot publish the names of hospital consultants who are holding up the payment to the HSE on income from health insurers due to fears of being sued, according to a new report given to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee.
For some time members of the spending watchdog committee have been strongly critical of delays experienced by the HSE in securing money due from health insurance companies in respect of subscribers treated in public facilities as a result of delays on the part of hospital consultants in signing the appropriate forms.
The Public Accounts Committee was told by the HSE earlier this year that at the end of last year there was more than €60 million outstanding in payments due from insurers, with more than €7 million owed for more than a year.
In a report in March the Public Accounts Committee said the HSE should examine the scope it has to publish the names of consultants who were holding up the collection of income.
In a response to the committee, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he had been informed by the Department of Health that the HSE had examined this option “but has decided to pursue alternative management options to improve its income collection”.
“The HSE’s legal advisers have outlined a range of material legal risks associated with publishing, including, in particular, that a consultant who is named in the list could potentially ground a claim against the HSE for (a) defamation, (b) breach of confidentiality and /or (c) breach of data protection laws.”
Mr Howlin said instead the HSE was focusing mainly on implementing its plan to have consultants sign off on claims within 14 working days or 20 calendar days.
He said the HSE was also continuing to improve its internal processes through the introduction of a system that allows claims to be made electronically.
He said the plan was that by December up to 90 per cent of claims would be made electronically.
Mr Howlin also said that the HSE was working with the Department of Health and health insurance companies “to bring about changes to modernise the payment terms so that payments to the HSE are made quickly without any reduction in the level of scrutiny by insurers of the treatment, length of stay and ultimately costs”.