Government abandons plans to seek €100 million in payments from health insurers

Reilly says gap in HSE budget would be addressed in supplement estimate

It has been reported that the HSE director general Tony O’Brien had told the Minister in a letter accompanying the plan that proposed spending cuts on the medical card scheme was being taken “against the advice of the HSE and the Department of Health”.

It has been reported that the HSE director general Tony O’Brien had told the Minister in a letter accompanying the plan that proposed spending cuts on the medical card scheme was being taken “against the advice of the HSE and the Department of Health”.

 

The Government has abandoned plans to seek more than €100 million from the health insurance industry in “accelerated payments” this year.The payment of this money – essentially an advance on income due for private patients treated in public facilities – had been viewed up to now as a key component in the HSE budget for this year.

A spokesman for Minister for Health James Reilly confirmed last night that he had decided not to seek these payments from insurers.

He said that any gap in the HSE’s budget for the year would be dealt with in a supplementary estimate to be brought before the Oireachtas shortly. The HSE financial deficit for the year is now expected to be in excess of €200 million.

Last week The Irish Times reported that the health authority had told the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that in a worst- case scenario, the deficit could reach €286 million or even more, depending on whether income due from the British department of health came in on target.


Verification process
It was also reported yesterday that as part of a verification process being carried out on the HSE’s service plan for 2014, it was now accepted in Government that the level of savings that would materialise from a “probity” examination of spending on the medical card scheme would generate far less than the €113 million set out in the budget.

The HSE service plan, which was given to Dr Reilly last Monday, states that reductions of €113 million on spending on the medical card services and a further €20 million in savings in the overall primary care reimbursement area is being sought.

The Irish Times reported on Saturday that the HSE director general Tony O’Brien had told the Minister in a letter accompanying the plan that proposed spending cuts on the medical card scheme was being taken “against the advice of the HSE and the Department of Health”.

The service plan also proposes that health staff should be excluded from measures agreed by the Government that personnel across the public service who retire before next August could do so with their pensions calculated on the pre-pay cut salaries that applied before the Haddington Road agreement.