Younger women to be given priority for new IVF funding
Younger women and those without children will be prioritised for fertility treatment under the Government's new fund for couples struggling to conceive.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said couples seeking state funding for IVF or assisted human reproduction would have to meet certain criteria to receive the payment.
"You are going to prioritise somebody who has no children over somebody who already has children," the Taoiseach said.
"You are going to prioritise maybe younger women who for medical reasons can't conceive as opposed to somebody who is in their 50s and 60s who wants to have a child.
"There will have to be criteria and there will still be an out-of-pocket contribution but we have set aside some funding next year to get that started," he added.
Couples can currently write off 20pc of the cost of fertility treatments against their tax bill, and medicines involved in the procedure are covered under the Drug Payment Scheme.
A €1m fund will be established by the HSE in the new year which will be used to contribute towards the cost of fertility treatments.
The Taoiseach said he could not commit to enacting long-promised human assisted reproduction legislation next year due to a backlog in the legislative system.
Mr Varadkar said the bill was delayed because those working on the legislation were preparing new abortion laws and guideline.
"When it comes to legislative priorities in health in the new year, setting up the CervicalCheck tribunal and Brexit legislation will be prioritised in the first quarter," he said.
"I expect to get that legislation into the Oireachtas next year, (but) getting it enacted next year will be a challenge," he added.
The assisted reproduction legislation will also see the introduction of regulation in the sector.