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Inaction on nursing home repayments deepens government's shame - McDonald

13 August, 2007

Responding to reports in today’s media that just 29,000 of the 70,000 estimated individuals illegally charged nursing home fees by the state from 1998 onwards have lodged their claims Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has called on the HSE to reconsider its refusal to extend the December 31st deadline.

Ms McDonald said:

“If today’s media reports are correct only 29,000 of the estimated 70,000 eligible claims have been lodged with the HSE to date and to make matters worse just 5,000 of these claims have actually been settled.

“The HSE have bemoaned a ‘high number of deficiencies’ on the claim forms that needed to be addressed before processing could begin. I put it to the HSE that a bad workman always blames his tools, so perhaps at this stage a more appropriate response would be to review the claim form itself.

“Organisations such as Age Action have today highlighted the myriad of confusions that still surround the reimbursement process for claimants yet the HSE response has been to blank these difficulties and refuse to consider extending the December 31st deadline by which all claims must be made.

“Today’s media reports deepen the disgraceful nature of this government scandal. That every effort is not being employed by this government to ensure all monies illegally taken from 70,000 citizens by the state at the most vulnerable time in their lives is incomprehensible to any right minded person.

“One can only conclude that the government is cynically endeavouring to reduce the estimated €1 billion reimbursement bill. If this is not the case then I call on the Taoiseach and Minister for Health Minister Harney to insist that the HSE extend the December 31st deadline.

“In turn Sinn Féin demands that every effort be made to contact all possible claimants, that the claim form be reviewed and amended if necessary and for conditions surrounding the claim process to be clarified.” CRÍOCH


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