HSE is pressed to 'come clean' on Fair Deal fees paid to private and public nursing homes
The HSE has been urged to publish updated figures showing the difference in fees paid by the State to private and public nursing homes under the Fair Deal scheme.
Nursing Homes Ireland, a body representing private nursing homes where one in five residents supported by the Fair Deal is cared for, said there is a need for greater transparency.
The call comes in the light of reports that funding of nearly €1bn for the scheme is already under pressure this year.
"Fees payable to private and voluntary nursing homes are published on a monthly basis," said Nursing Homes Ireland chief executive Tadhg Daly.
However, he said the HSE was "hiding fees" paid from the Fair Deal funding to public nursing homes. The HSE was a "law unto themselves" in failing to deliver transparency on public nursing home spend, he added.
The last published fees payable to HSE nursing homes under Fair Deal were for February 2018 and were published in March 2018.
The report said: "HSE nursing homes were being paid fees that were a national average 60pc above those payable to private and voluntary nursing homes.
"In Co Westmeath, HSE nursing homes were being paid fees that were 163pc above those payable to the private and voluntary nursing homes in the county.
"Within every county, HSE nursing homes were paid fees that were significantly above those payable to private and voluntary homes."
The "lowest" differential was in Co Dublin, where the average fees payable to the HSE were 40pc above those payable to private and voluntary homes.
Private nursing homes have come under criticism in recent years for asking Fair Deal residents to pay a top-up charge, but owners have insisted these are necessary because the fees they get from the HSE provide a minimum of cover.