Tobacco Control Measures

Questions (230)

Damien English

Question:

230. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 104 of 15 October 2013, regarding his Department's participation in the high-level implementation group to oversee the project plan for the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products and where his Department outlined to the group from an intellectual property perspective the potential issues arising in relation to domestic and international law, the issues that he referred to in his response; if they are significant in terms of framing the proposed legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45559/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Medical Card Applications

Questions (231)

Billy Timmins

Question:

231. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45336/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (232)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

232. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 will be awarded home help. [45345/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Drugs Payment Scheme Coverage

Questions (233, 234, 235)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

233. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the reason there was an issue in the payment to pharmacies by the drugs payment scheme for Nadolol for a number of months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45346/13]

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Billy Kelleher

Question:

234. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if there is a problem with the supply of the drug Nadolol here; and, if so, the measures the Health Service Executive is taking to prevent a future supply problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45347/13]

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Billy Kelleher

Question:

235. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a guarantee to the sufferers of Long QT syndrome who depend on Nadolol that no further issues will arise for them in securing the drug under the drugs payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45348/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 to 235, inclusive, together.

Nadolol was being reimbursed by the HSE at a price of €79.45. The supplier informed the HSE some months ago that it could not continue to supply at that price. The HSE is aware that the price currently offered to community pharmacies is in the region of €259. Where there is a sudden increase in price sought under the Drug Payment Scheme, there is an onus on the HSE to establish the reasonableness and accuracy of the claim. While this may result in a delay, the HSE makes every effort to expedite the process.

It is not possible to guarantee that there will no supply issues in relation to any individual drug; however the HSE strives to ensure continuity of supply.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (236, 248)

Finian McGrath

Question:

236. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the reason married couples are being discriminated against with the new ceiling for medical cards for the over 70s (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45359/13]

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Billy Timmins

Question:

248. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the medical card income limit for the over 70s in budget 2014; the reason the income limit is not €1,000 for a couple; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45436/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 248 together.

The Government recognises that the living costs of an individual living alone are more than half the living costs of a couple living together. This is acknowledged through the provision of the Living Alone Allowance and differential income limits for medical cards for persons aged under 70 years between individuals and couples.

In that context, the over-70s income limit for a single person has been reduced proportionately less than the income limit for a couple.

Dental Services Provision

Questions (237)

Seán Fleming

Question:

237. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health when orthodontic treatment will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45362/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE provides orthodontic treatment to patients based on their level of clinical need. An individual's access to orthodontic treatment is determined against a set of clinical guidelines and priority is given to patients with greatest needs. The HSE has been asked to examine the specific query raised by the Deputy and to reply to him as soon as possible.

Health Services Issues

Questions (238)

Finian McGrath

Question:

238. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding residential care in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15. [45369/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Universal Health Insurance Provision

Questions (239)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

239. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if the prospect of universal health insurance is no longer feasible in view of the fact that the population with health insurance fell from 52% to 45% in recent years, with the real expectation that it will fall to 40%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45371/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I do not believe that the relatively modest declines in private health insurance coverage in recent years will make universal health insurance (UHI) unfeasible. UHI will cover the total population, not just those who can afford to pay. Under UHI, everyone will be insured and will have equal access to a standard package of primary and acute hospital services, including acute mental health services. An Insurance Fund will subsidise or pay insurance premiums for those who qualify for a subsidy. The Programme for Government commits that everybody will have a choice of insurer. The Department is currently preparing a White Paper on Universal Health Insurance which will provide more detail on the model of UHI for Ireland. Intensive work is proceeding with a view to publishing the White Paper by the end of the year.

Intensive work is also underway in relation to the key building blocks that will bring benefits and drive efficiencies in advance of and pave the way for the introduction of Universal Health Insurance. These include:

- the strengthening of primary care services to deliver universal GP care without fees for the entire population. The Government has announced, as part of Budget 2014, that it will commence the roll-out of a universal GP service by providing all children aged 5 and under with access to a GP service without fees;

- the work of the Special Delivery Unit in tackling waiting times;

- the reorganisation of public hospitals into more efficient and accountable hospital groups that will deliver improved outcomes for patients. That reorganisation was informed by two expert reports, namely, The Establishment of Hospital Groups as a Transition to Independent Hospital Trusts and The Framework for Development – Securing the Future of Smaller Hospitals, which were published on the 14th May 2013;

- the introduction earlier this year of a new scheme of risk equalisation for the private health insurance market;

- the delivery of a 'Money Follows the Patient' policy which will commence in shadow form shortly and will be phased in to adjust hospital budgets from January 2014;

- the approval of national healthcare standards and ongoing work in relation to supporting licensing legislation.

The reform programme is a major undertaking that requires careful planning and sequencing over a number of years. The Government will consult widely, as part of the reform implementation process.