In parallel with the ongoing drafting of assisted human reproduction (AHR) legislation, officials in my Department, in conjunction with the HSE, have been developing a model of care for infertility, which incorporates a public funding element. This work has also included examining proposals for the allocation of a related €1 million fund which was announced by An Taoiseach in December 2018.
Accordingly, options in relation to the parameters of such a model, including the type of factors the Deputy refers to, are still under consideration, and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement in the coming weeks.
It should be noted that while AHR treatment is not currently funded by the Irish Public Health Service, 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. I understand that the impact on the total cost of AHR treatment for individuals who avail of these schemes is not insignificant.
In addition, there is other 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.
Overall, the development of a model of care will help to ensure the provision of safe, effective and accessible infertility services at all levels of the public health system as part of the full range of services available in obstetrics and gynaecology.