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Middle class will not face massive bills under health cover plan – Reilly

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Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has rejected claims that middle-income families would face bills of "thousands of euro" if universal health insurance is introduced in five years.

He insisted they would be entitled to a "considerable subsidy in premiums. It won't cost families thousands of euro or anything like it," he told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.

He was speaking in the wake of the publication of the Government White Paper on universal health insurance which would see everyone privately insured – with a majority having their premiums paid in full or subsidised.

Earlier, Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath, (inset), told the Dail that compulsory health insurance was "double taxation" on citizens – which could cost families €3,000 per year in insurance costs.

The draft health plans, unveiled by government yesterday, will give real power to the health insurance companies, he added.

The minister said no decision would be made on whether to begin drawing up legislation for universal health insurance until a full public consultation had taken place.

He said: "We have a job of work to do in estimating the costs before we implement the reforms inherent in universal health insurance.

"We need to take into account not just the basket of services but the demand for and utilisation of healthcare, service delivery models, payment systems and regulatory and administrative costs.

GOAL

"My department will progress work in this area during 2014, to be completed in January, 2015," he said.

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"Then, and only then, will we proceed with drafting of legislation to give effect to the reforms set out in the White Paper, with the approval of Government. The goal is to introduce it by 2019.

"If it can be seen as our final destination, then structural reform describes the road we must follow."

Meanwhile, the meeting was told that voluntary agencies and hospitals which had been paying "top-ups" to managers are now being informed whether the business cases made to the HSE to continue to pay the additional allowances have been allowed.

A HSE internal review has looked over each business case in detail and is currently in the process of making a decision in relation to each case and a report will be published shortly.

A total 143 business cases were received for additional allowances to senior managers and 59 related to those on lower salaries.

HSE chief Tony O' Brien said he did not believe the review group would be "soft and woolly" in its decisions.


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