Senator Doherty calls on government to establish Health Funding Commission
Speaking during the Seanad debate on the VHI Bill Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has called for the establishment of a Health Funding Commission so that all monies currently spent on health services both by Government and by citizens in the form of health insurance premiums and user fees can be accessed.
Senator Doherty said:
“The VHI is a statutory corporation whose board members are appointed by the Minister for Health and Children.
“It is regulated by the Health Insurance Authority and is still the main provider of personal health insurance. As such it plays a key part in health funding in this State.
“This Bill does nothing to remove the doubts about the future of VHI as a statutory corporation for which the Government has a special responsibility.
“It yet another manifestation of the government’s privatisation agenda and it is in that is the context in we discuss this Bill.
“We do not know the total amount of money we spend as a society on health services, but we do know that best use is not being made of this money because government is spending it inequitably and inefficiently in a two-tier system.
“Privatising state enterprises and legislatively pushing them into auxiliary services that have nothing to do with their core provision will not improve the delivery of public services nor in real terms does it make economic sense.
“Approximately 70% of the population pays for their healthcare twice – once through taxes and again through personal health insurance. Meanwhile the proportion of the population on low incomes with medical cards is declining due to unfair income ceiling caps.
“This complex and inefficient funding system has been used by successive Governments to underpin the grossly inequitable two-tier public-private system.
“The Government should immediately establish a Health Funding Commission to plan the transition to a fairer and more efficient system.
“Taxation based on ability to pay and top quality healthcare based on need alone and delivered to all equally, regardless of income, is the only fair way forward.” CRíOCH