Dáil Éireann - Volume 602 - 24 May, 2005
Written Answers - Nursing Home Charges.
Mr. F. McGrath Mr. F. McGrath
133. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if urgent assistance will be given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 on the nursing home charges issue, and the maximum support and advice. [16891/05]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: The Government has agreed the key elements of a scheme for the repayment of long-stay charges. All those who were illegally charged for publicly-funded long term residential care and are alive and the estates of all those who were charged and died in the six years prior to 9 December 2004 will have the charges repaid in full. The scheme will not provide for repayments to the estates of those who died more than six years ago. The repayments will include the charge paid and an amount to take account of inflation — using the consumer price index — since the time the person involved was charged. Legislation will be brought before the Oireachtas as soon as possible to provide a clear legal framework for the scheme.
In the cases of those who were charged and are still alive, repayments will be exempt from tax and will not be taken into account in assessing means for health and social welfare benefits. The normal tax and means assessment arrangements will apply to those who benefit from repayments to estates. An outside company with experience in handling mass claims will be engaged to design and manage the scheme within the parameters of the key principles approved by Government. A national steering committee will be appointed to provide an independent input into the design of the scheme and to monitor its operation to ensure it is implemented quickly and in the most equitable and effective way possible. The scheme will be designed and managed with the aim of ensuring that those who are eligible for repayments receive them as soon as possible and with the minimum possible imposition in terms of bureaucracy.
Priority will be given to those who are still alive. Many of those eligible for repayments have already been identified under the ex gratia payments process. The scheme will include a transparent and thorough appeals process. The legislation will include appropriate safeguards to prevent exploitation of those who receive repay ments and are not in a position to manage their own financial affairs. The scheme will include a provision to allow those eligible for a repayment to waive their right to a repayment and have the money assigned to fund one-off service improvements in elderly, mental health and disability services. It is estimated that about 20,000 people who are still alive and a further 40,000 to 50,000 estates will benefit.
It is estimated that the scheme will cost approximately €1billion. The decision to limit payments to the estates of those who died in the past six years reflects the reference in the Supreme Court judgement to the Statute of Limitations. While the national helpline set up by the Health Service Executive to allow people to register if they believe they are due a repayment will continue to operate, there is no need for anyone who has already registered using this facility to make contact with the HSE again to register for the scheme. Any person who considers he, she or a family member may be eligible for repayment may register an interest in advance with the Health Service Executive by writing to the National Refund Scheme, HSE Midland Area, Arden Road, Tullamore, County Offaly, sending an e-mail to email@example.com, or by calling the helpline 1800 777737 during office hours.
Dáil Éireann 602 Written Answers Nursing Home Charges.