Thursday 8 December 2016

Quality, accessible healthcare is what voters really want

Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30

The issue of crime has dominated healthcare concerns in this election cycle
The issue of crime has dominated healthcare concerns in this election cycle

This General Election demonstrates the gaping disconnect between the Irish people and our politicians. In polls, citizens repeatedly state that their primary concern is health - yet it is crime, 'fiscal space' and the make-up of the next government that dominate the campaign.

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Scrutiny of the parties' manifestos throws some light on where they stand on health. What's most obvious from the Government parties is their abandonment of their flagship policy of universal health insurance from the 2011 election. The Labour Party no longer even mentions health insurance in its health policy, while Fine Gael kicks it into the distant green fields, having openly abandoned its 2011 plan for compulsory private health insurance.

Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats all commit to introducing universal healthcare although Fine Gael and Labour fail to show how they now intend to achieve universal access - in particular how to get rid of two-tier access to hospital care. Fine Gael's manifesto promises to increase private health insurance coverage, which, in the absence of universal health insurance, implies continued unequal access for public and private patients.

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