Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Department of Health
Assisted Human Reproduction Services Expenditure
332. To ask the Minister for Health when funding which was set aside for IVF will be available; the timeframe for enacting legislation necessary to bring the funding on stream; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3864/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 318 and 332 together.
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 on-going and the Committee intends to publish its report early this year. 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.
In order to support the commencement of the legislation, officials in my Department are working 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.
The Government has approved a €1 million fund for use in relation to providing public AHR treatment during 2019. Officials in my Department are currently examining options in relation to the operation and administration of this fund, which includes determining the access criteria that will apply. Once I have had the opportunity to review and approve these proposals, there will be an announcement regarding the commencement of this fund for 2019.
It should also be noted that, currently, 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.