HSE chief Tony O'Brien says he was not having a "technicolour dream" when he estimated the health service needs an extra €2bn next year - but he admitted he has no expectation of getting that level of funding.
The HSE's pre-Budget submission, which would amount to an increase of nearly €2bn from the Government next year, was first revealed in the Irish Independent last month.
However, Mr O'Brien said yesterday his health service shopping list for 2016 was a response to a Department of Health request to outline the services needed to meet the demands of an increasing and ageing population.
"We have no expectation of such an allocation... however, the needs of the people of Ireland for improved access to health care services are real.
"We do not dream in technicolour as has been suggested but we do aspire to provide services people need," he said.
Mr O'Brien was speaking at the launch of the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance (HEA), which estimates €129m in savings can be made in the State's drugs bill if medicine procurement processes are reformed.
The new healthcare group - made up of some of the largest suppliers of medicines - said measures, including treating all new patients with a generic drug and incentivising GPs to prescribe more cost-effectively, could yield massive savings.
HEA president Sandra Gannon said: "Our proposals are both timely and relevant given the Department of Health and HSE are starting negotiations which will determine the price of medicines in Ireland for the next five years."
Mr O'Brien said he welcomed the proposals which, if successful, could provide more access to drugs for patients in the future.