Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subventions.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

306 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the contents of communications between his Department and the Department of Finance on the introduction of an inheritance or similar tax on the estate of old people residing in nursing homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7434/01]

An expenditure review of the nursing home subvention scheme is being undertaken by my Department in association with the Department of Finance and is expected to be completed shortly. The purpose of this review is to address,inter alia, the following issues: the operation, efficiency, effectiveness and equity implications of the nursing home subvention scheme and the extent to which current objectives are being met; optimal funding arrangements for long-stay care, and the major policy questions for the future.

Documents recently released by my Department under the Freedom of Information Act, 1997, include correspondence between my Department and the Department of Finance. These documents show that a draft of the expenditure review includes a suggestion that consideration should be given to a provision which would enable the State to claw back some of the cost of subvention from the estate of deceased beneficiaries of the scheme. This suggestion is one of a number of proposals made by the author of the review. As the review is still in draft form, it would be inappropriate for further comment to be made without the full findings and recommendations of the review being available for consideration.
It is the intention to bring proposals to Government at a later date on whatever measures may be necessary arising from the findings of this review, the report of the Ombudsman and experience gained from the operation of the scheme since it inception.