Thursday 21 September 2017

I'll reveal cost of Universal Health cover by April, vows Varadkar

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar speaking to the media yesterday. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar speaking to the media yesterday. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar has pledged to reveal in April how much families will pay in return for Universal Health Insurance (UHI).

Mr Varadkar said the Coalition's highly ambitious plan is being fully costed and that an initial report on UHI will be detailed in the Dáil in the coming weeks.

On taking office in July, one of Mr Varadkar's first moves was to declare that the initial 2019 target for the introduction of UHI was "too ambitious".

The move went down badly among Taoiseach Enda Kenny's advisers and other Government figures. Mr Varadkar then announced in January that the plan was being put back on track.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, the Dublin West TD said he will outline a per-person cost of UHI in April. "I'll also estimate the cost of individuals, households and employers and the Exchequer," he said.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar last night said the costings are being carried out by the Economic Social and Research Institute (ESRI).

But Mr Varadkar's comments on UHI were made as he was strongly criticised by Opposition politicians over his handling of the health service.

Detached

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Mr Varadkar of making light of the current crisis after he raised the issue during Leaders' Questions.

"It's not a smiling matter. It's about time we had less of your detached manner," Mr Martin said.

During heated exchanges in the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced to defend the record of his Health Minister.

And the Taoiseach rounded on Fianna Fáil over its 'lack of' health policy.

"The Fianna Fáil health policy is the mythical Fianna Fáil policy which will deal with all these answers at some time in the future," Mr Kenny said.

The Government also came under fire from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who demanded emergency measures be put in place to deal with the trolley crisis, adding that 479 patients were "languishing" in hospital corridors yesterday.

He said the Government has given more money to the "consultants of Irish Water" than to the Fair Deal scheme.

A review into the scheme, which provides assistance for people who require long term nursing home support, is set to be published shortly.

But the Taoiseach strongly rejected the criticism from Mr Adams and highlighted the Louth TD's decision to travel to the US for private health treatment.

Mr Kenny again rounded on Fianna Fáil, claiming that the party is hypocritical because it still has no proper health policy.

"Deputy Martin has no policy and you (Gerry Adams) have no faith, you decide to go somewhere else for treatment and that's your choice," Mr Kenny told the Dáil.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

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