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People paying on the double for healthcare – Ó Caoláin

26 April, 2007

Speaking on the Government's motion on risk equalisation Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said people were paying on the double for health services and that Fianna Fáil/PD policies would result in higher health insurance charges and the worsening of the two-tier system. He called for a Health Funding Commission to plan for a single public healthcare system available to all based on need and funded from general and progressive taxation.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "This government is presiding over a shambles in our health services. Their fundamentally flawed policies and gross mismanagement of those services has meant that more and more people have had to take out personal health insurance for themselves and their families. Many of these people are on relatively low or moderate incomes, do not qualify for the medical card and are concerned that if they rely totally on the public system they will face long waiting lists and poorer healthcare outcomes. They are paying on the double for health through tax and PRSI and through private health insurance. Many people fall between two stools and do not qualify for the medical card nor can they afford private health insurance.

"This motion approving the Minister's regulations will further hamper the VHI and will, no doubt, result in higher insurance costs for its customers. The wider recommendations of the Barrington Report are even more alarming with the prospect of people being penalised for taking out personal health insurance later in life. The implications are complex and wide-ranging, yet we are expected to rubber-stamp this motion in less than half an hour.

"All of this surely illustrates the folly of the way in which our health services are funded and organised. The two-tier system is both inefficient and inequitable. The Minister is driving towards the ever greater privatisation of our health system. We should be going in a new direction - towards a fully public system, accessible to all who need it and funded by fair, general taxation. For that reason Sinn Féin is proposing a Health Funding Commission to assess all the means by which health is funded in Ireland today, both private and public, and to plan the transition to a universal system. That is our determination." ENDS

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