Harney to introduce changes for health insurers

 

The VHI is to be forced to become more commercial and operate to the same solvency requirements as other health insurers the Minister for Health, Mary Harney said today.

Speaking on RTE's This Weekprogramme Ms Harney said: "In any market where you have one very large player not competing on the same basis as their competitors it is obviously a distorted and unfair market."

The Minister expressed surprise at criticism from some parliamentary colleagues of the plan for nursing home payments and BUPA 's pulling out of the Irish market. "In both instances the Government have approved of what I have done, I did not move unilaterally."

Politics is about making difficult choices it is not about sweeping things under the carpet, it is not about putting things off until after the election
Minister for Health Mary Harney

"Politics is about making difficult choices it is not about sweeping things under the carpet, it is not about putting things off until after the election."

She added that: "BUPA said they had been forced out of Ireland because of a government decision. I am entitled to say what the government wants here is fair competition. There is no body more pro competition than me but it has to be fair competition."

She said the nursing home funding plan would bring parity between those in public nursing homes and those in private ones. She said the current method of payment was unfair and the controversial levy of a percentage of the value of a person's home gave people another option.

"This is an option we are giving people and it is a hell of a lot better than forcing people as we do at the moment to sell the house in order to pay for the care."

She also went on to say that the Irish media had sunk to new lows. "We have had in Ireland in recent years the introduction of what I call a new low in the Irish media and I think the country was a lot better without it quite honestly."

"I think if people would concentrate on the issue I have no problem nor could any of us in a democracy have a problem with people challenging the decisions you make but I think it should be on the basis of fair play and not on the basis of trying to offend or insult those that are trying to do

their best, in this case for the older people in Ireland."

She added that she would like to keep the job of Minister for Health after the general election. "I think you need five or six years in the Department of Health to see through the reform. I'm there for just over two years and I'd like to be there for a period after the election."