Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 15 February, 2006
Written Answers. - Community Care.
Mr. G. Mitchell Mr. G. Mitchell
194. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will review a decision not to increase the payment of €5 per week to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 to support their aunt; if they are entitled to a capital payment in view of the status of their aunt; and if arrangements will be made for a detailed reply. [6046/06]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: The charging for long stay care under the Health (Amendment) Act, 2005 is being implemented by way of the Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) Regulations 2005. These regulations were signed on 14 June 2005 and reinstated charges for inpatient services and provided for the levying of a charge in respect of the maintenance of persons in receipt of inpatient services. The regulations were prepared following extensive consultation with the HSE and others.
Section 53 of the Health Act 1970, as amended by the Health (Amendment) Act 2005, provides, inter alia, for the levying of a charge where inpatient services have been provided for a period of not less than 30 days or for periods aggregating not less than 30 days within the previous 12 months. In this regard, charging of patients in long-term care commenced on 14 July 2005, which was after the expiration of 30 days after the regulations were signed. The regulations, in keeping with section 53 of the Health Act 1970, as amended, have provided for two different classes of persons on whom charges can be levied.
 Class 1 refers to people in receipt of inpatient services on premises where nursing care is provided on a 24 hour basis on those premises. In this case, a weekly charge can be levied of €120 or the weekly income of that person less €35, whichever is the lesser. Class 2 refers to people in receipt of inpatient services on premises where nursing care is not provided on a 24 hour basis on those premises. In this situation, a weekly charge can be levied of €90, or the weekly income of that person less €55 or 60% of the weekly income of that person, whichever is the lesser.
These regulations provide for the maximum charge to be levied on either class of person. The HSE has the power to reduce or waive a charge on the grounds of “undue hardship”. Under section 1(b) of the Health (Amendment) Act 2005, the HSE can examine a person’s overall financial situation in view of the person’s reasonable expenditure as regards themselves or their dependants, if any. It is a matter for the HSE, based on its own legal advice and taking into account the individual circumstances as well as the service being provided, to make a decision on any charges levied.
With regard to entitlement to a capital payment, the Government has agreed the key elements of a scheme for the repayment of long stay charges for publicly funded residential care. All those fully eligible persons who were wrongly charged and are alive and the estates of all those who were wrongly charged and died since 9 December 1998 will have the charges repaid in full. The scheme will not allow for repayments to the estates of those who died prior to that date. The repayments will include both the actual charge paid and an amount to take account of inflation, using the consumer price index, since the time the person involved was charged. 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 who are eligible for a repayment have been identified as a result of initial payments of up to €2,000, made following my initial announcement in December 2004. These payments will be incorporated into repayments made under the national repayment scheme.
The Deputy’s question relates to a specific case that involves the management and delivery of health and personal social services and which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the HSE to arrange to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy in relation to this case.
Dáil Éireann 614 Written Answers. Community Care.