In October 2017, the Government approved the drafting of a Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated areas of research, based on the published General Scheme. The process of drafting this Bill will be completed in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. In addition, the Joint Committee on Health is currently conducting a review of the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017 as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January of last year. The review is ongoing and the Joint Committee intends to report thereon before the summer recess. However, it is not possible at this time to give a definitive timeline for the completion of the draft Bill and its subsequent passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Interlinked with the legislation, officials in my Department, in conjunction with the HSE, are developing a model of care for infertility and an associated public fund for AHR. This work includes developing proposals on the allocation approved by Government for a €1 million fund for use in relation to providing public AHR treatment during 2019.
The development of a model of care for infertility will help to ensure the provision of safe, effective and accessible services through the public health system as part of the full range of services available in obstetrics and gynaecology. Once the funding proposals have been submitted and approved by me, there will be an announcement regarding the commencement of this fund.
While AHR treatment is not currently funded by the Irish Public Health Service there is some support available in that patients who access IVF treatment privately may claim tax relief on the costs involved under the tax relief for medical expenses scheme. In addition, a defined list of fertility medicines needed for fertility treatment is covered under the High Tech Arrangements administered by the HSE. Medicines covered by the High Tech Arrangements must be prescribed by a consultant/specialist and authorised for supply to the client’s nominated community pharmacy by the High Tech Hub managed by the Primary Care Reimbursement Service. The cost of the medicines is then covered, as appropriate, under the client’s eligibility i.e. Medical Card or Drugs Payment Scheme.