Changes are being sought to a nursing home scheme that could cost farmers and land owners dearly.
Under the Nursing Home Support Act, farmers who cannot afford to pay nursing home fees will be levied up to 5pc of the value of their assets for every year that they remain in care.
The ICSA has called on the Minister for Health, James O'Reilly, to immediately reconsider the provisions of the Act in relation to farmers.
In the case of a householder, the reimbursement due to the State is capped at 15pc of the value of the dwelling house. However, no limit applies to farm land, except in the case of a sudden illness requiring immediate nursing home care.
The Nursing Home Support Act means-tests all applicants in need of financial assistance to cope with nursing home bills. If the applicant has no assets, 80pc of their available income is put against their care charges, with the State making up the remainder. However, if the person requiring fulltime care has assets, the fees -- which are often over €40,000 per year -- are levied against the assets to a maximum of 5pc of their value.
The ICSA's John Barron said that the Act was discriminatory against farmers. He added that even if a farm has been transferred up to five years before death, a successor could be liable for nursing home charges on the land. "This is a most intolerable situation, especially for young farmers who have no hope of continuing to work the family farm if they are faced with bills of half the value of the farm or more," he said.