Thursday, 28 September 2017
Department of Health
Nursing Homes Support Scheme Review
147. To ask the Minister for Health the progress regarding the commitment under the programme for Government to address the discrimination faced by farmers in respect of the fair deal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41013/17]
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) is a system of financial support for those in need of long-term nursing home care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their income and assets while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.
When the NHSS commenced in 2009, a commitment was made that it would be reviewed after three years. The Report of the Review was published in July 2015. Arising out of the Review, a number of key issues have been identified for more detailed consideration across Departments and Agencies.
An Interdepartmental/Agency Working Group has been established to progress the recommendations contained in the Review. This Group is chaired by the Department of Health and includes representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE, the Revenue Commissioners, and when required, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). These recommendations include examining the treatment of business and farm assets for the purposes of the financial assessment element of the Scheme. The programme for a Partnership Government has also committed to reviewing the NHSS to remove any discrimination against small businesses and family farms. It is important to remember that the NHSS is largely underpinned by primary legislation and changes to the NHSS will require legislative implementation.
On this basis, I have requested legal advice from the office of the Attorney General regarding potential changes to the legislation that will address this matter. I have met with representatives from the I.F.A to discuss this matter and have apprised them of the current progress. I am committed to this review of the position with regard to family farms and small businesses for the purposes of the financial assessment of the scheme.