Thursday, 8 December 2005
Department of Health and Children
Nursing Home Charges
Question 143: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when she intends to publish legislation to refund nursing home overpayments; if the legislation will address the issue of charges in private nursing homes as well as public institutions; the reason for the delay in publishing the legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38626/05]
The Government has agreed the key elements of a scheme for the repayment of long stay charges for publicly funded residential care. All those fully eligible persons who were wrongly charged and are alive and the estates of all those who were wrongly charged and died since 9 December 1998 will have the charges repaid in full. The scheme will not allow for repayments to the estates of those who died prior to that date. The repayments will include both the actual charge paid and an amount to take account of inflation using the consumer price index since the time the person involved was charged.
Persons who were in publicly contracted beds in private nursing homes are covered by the terms of the Supreme Court judgment. The Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 regulates the private nursing home sector. Under the nursing home subvention regulations the Health Service Executive makes a financial contribution to an individual towards the cost of his or her private nursing care provided he or she qualifies on means and dependancy grounds. The provisions of the Supreme Court judgment do not apply to individuals in private nursing homes who have entered these homes under the nursing home subvention scheme.
Draft heads of a Bill for a repayment scheme have been prepared and will shortly be submitted to Cabinet for approval. It is my intention to have legislation brought before the Oireachtas in the next parliamentary session and to have repayments commencing shortly after the Bill is approved and signed into law.
A national oversight committee has been appointed and has already begun its work. It will provide an independent input into the design of the scheme and will monitor the operation of the scheme in order to ensure that it is being implemented quickly and in the most equitable and effective way possible.
The scheme will be designed and managed with the aim of ensuring that those who are eligible for repayments receive them as soon as possible and with the minimum possible imposition in terms of bureaucracy. Priority will be given to those who are still alive. Many of those eligible for repayments have already been identified as a result of initial payments made following my announcement in December 2004. The scheme will include a transparent and thorough appeals process.
Any person who considers that he or she or a family member may be eligible for repayment may register his or her interest in advance with the Health Service Executive, by writing to the National Refund Scheme, HSE Midland Area, Arden Road, Tullamore, County Offaly or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the helpline 1800 777737 during office hours.