Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ceisteanna (147, 148, 151, 152)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

147. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health when plans to subsidise or assist couples with the cost of IVF will be published and introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18228/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

148. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the projected costs in 2019 of the introduction of free IVF treatment as committed to in October 2017; and the estimated number of couples who would be provided with access in 2019 and in each of the following five years [18229/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

151. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the supports that are provided to couples who require assistance in funding IVF and other fertility treatments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18232/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

152. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health further to previous parliamentary replies, if he reverted to Government at the end of 2017 as committed to with proposals for a potential model of public funding for assisted human reproduction treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18233/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147, 148, 151 and 152 together.

The Government approved the drafting of a Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated areas of research in October last year. In order to support the commencement of the legislation, officials in my Department will work during 2018 with the HSE to develop a model of care for infertility 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.

Part of this work includes identifying policy options for a potential public funding model for AHR treatment. Once I have had the opportunity to consider these policy options I will bring a Memorandum to Government for a model of public funding for AHR treatment for the Government's consideration and decision.

It should be noted that any funding model that may ultimately be introduced would need to operate within the broader regulatory framework set out in the AHR Bill and a model of care for infertility.

While IVF treatment is not currently provided 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 Scheme administered by the HSE. Medicines covered by the High Tech Scheme must be prescribed by a consultant/specialist and approved by the HSE ‘High Tech Liaison Officers’. The cost of the medicines is then covered, as appropriate, under the Medical Card or Drugs Payment Scheme. In addition to these schemes, there is a limited specialist AHR service available through the HSE, which provides funding for fertility preservation for cancer patients whose treatment is likely to impact on their future fertility.