Finance Minister is Reilly health plan's latest ally
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has become the latest government figure to issue a staunch defence of Health Minister James Reilly's plans for universal health insurance.
Mr Noonan said the new system will eliminate waiting lists and give patients "the kind of healthcare that is common across Europe".
Dr Reilly will shortly publish a government White Paper outlining the proposals, which will be followed by a lengthy public consultation period.
It was revealed last week that the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure have raised concerns about the potential costings of the plan.
However, Department of Health sources have hit back at the criticism and rejected claims that the plan poses a risk to the financial stability of the State.
Mr Noonan yesterday said the plan represents a "radical proposal of a generation".
"There is no point in speculating too much about the detail of it until we see the shape of it in the first instance. And of course, it's not going to be fixed in stone once announced.
"A White Paper is a costed intention of a government policy, then it will be varied subject to public debate," Mr Noonan said.
"This is the radical proposal of a generation and I'd advise all stakeholders and everyone in the country to get involved in this debate so that we can have a one-tier system that eliminates waiting lists and gives people the kind of healthcare which is common now across Europe," he added.
Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted that the Government can afford to introduce the plan, which will be in place by 2019.
"The people voted for this at the last general election in very strong measure, to change the structure and the administration of the health system we have currently," he told RTE's 'The Week in Politics'.