Extra €50m needed to compensate GPs for treating medical card patients

Health committee told €85m more will be required to supplement hospitals due to ‘significant reduction’ in private patient income

Extra Government funding of €655m  will be needed this year to deal with over-spending by the Health Service Executive – 4%  of overall health expenditure for 2018

Extra Government funding of €655m will be needed this year to deal with over-spending by the Health Service Executive – 4% of overall health expenditure for 2018

 

Some €50 million will be required as a supplementary estimate for the primary care reimbursement scheme which compensates GPs for treating medical card patients, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

And additional funding will need to be provided to cover a number of GP fees and allowances, including €4.85 million towards the cost of providing free CervicalCheck consultations.

Extra Government funding of €655 million will be needed this year to deal with over-spending by the Health Service Executive – some 4 per cent of overall health expenditure for 2018, the committee has heard.

Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly told the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children it was “significant” extra spending, and that health funding remained “a major challenge”.

Mr Daly said €85 million was being sought to supplement the significant reduction in the level of private patient income for public hospitals this year.

“Health insurers commenced a campaign in 2017 aimed at discouraging members from using their private health insurance to avail of private inpatient services when they are admitted via an emergency department.

“Instead they have encouraged their members to consider being treated as a public patient, as is their right provided for under the Health Act 1970.”

The Minister said this “inevitably is leading to a drop in income as more patients are opting to be treated publicly rather than privately”.

The committee heard last month that the campaign by healthcare insurers had led to a loss of €100 million in projected income.

Mr Daly told the committee on Wednesday that €10 million from the supplementary estimate would allow for the commencement of measures aimed at alleviating pressure on hospitals during the busy winter period. Some €5.7 million was being allocated to the acute hospitals to address critical bed capacity deficits this year.

He also said it was expected that none of the €150 million in targeted savings under the HSE’s “value improvement plan” for 2018 would be achieved by this year end.

Treatment abroad

The committee heard there had been a “significant increase” this year in the amount of payments made under the treatment abroad and cross-Border healthcare schemes. “With the trend continuing upwards throughout the year, there is a need for supplementary funding to address this area of growing demand.”

He also told the committee the increasing costs of the Clinical Indemnity Scheme were not due exclusively to the increasing numbers of claims but rather to “the increasing costs of awards and the very high costs associated with catastrophic injury claims”.

A further €30 million is being allocated to cover the continuing increase in the cost of high-tech drugs for treating conditions such as rheumatology, cancer, and cystic fibrosis.