According to the irishhealth.com, Fine Gael’s health spokesperson Dr James Reilly has warned that massive earnings by some hospital consultants would end under the party’s universal health insurance (UHI) plan.
Under both Fine Gael and Labour’s health service plans, everyone in the population would be insured for the same level of health cover and there would be equal access to care in both private and public hospitals for everyone based on medical need alone, with free GP care also being provided for the entire population.
Labour has proposed that €75 million be clawed back from consultant salaries to help pay for free GP care, while Sinn Fein has said consultants’ public salaries should be reduced from the current €180,000 plus to €150,000.
Dr Reilly told a health policy conference in Dublin that the days of consultants taking a large State salary and an even larger private practice payout on top of that, would come to an end under Fine Gael.
“People who are earning €180,000 to €200,000, who have studied for six years to get a good Leaving Cert and then go to medical college for six years, and then train for a further 10 years – I think most people acknowledge that people who have done that have developed an expertise and are entitled to a good income. And I believe €180,000 is a bloody good income.”
“I am saying very clearly that the days of people who think they can take €180,000 out of the State and another €300,000 from the VHI will be over under Fine Gael, because it’s just not sustainable. It may upset some people, but this is a society we live in and no-one can set themselves above the rest of society. We are all taking pain and we will all share in the gain at the other end, and that is the Fine Gael position.”
The conference, attended by representatives of the main political parties, was organised by the Irish Dental Association, Irish Medical Organisation and Irish Pharmacy Union.
Dr Reilly said there was sufficient money being spent on health even with the cutbacks to give us an excellent service. “We just have not been spending the money in the right way.”
He said under the Fine Gael insurance plan healthcare would be run by private operators and there may be some not for profit global insurance operators who might enter the market as well under UHI.
“With the entire community insured we will be doubling the size of the market and that will attract more competition and I believe help control costs.”
Labour’s health spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan told the meeting that we have to reform the health service in order to get better value for money. She said Labour would introduce free GP care at the point of delivery within four years.
She said under Labour’s universal insurance scheme cover would be provided by private health insurers as well as a public health insurer. A public health insurer body would be set up but people would be allowed to keep their private insurance as well.
Both Fine Gael and Labour plan to reinstate the dental scheme for medical card patients, the meeting was told. However, Fine Gael said the funds were not there at the moment to reinstate dental care subsidies for those who pay PRSI, while Labour said it would review the matter.
Fianna Fail health spokesman Barry Andrews said he would challenge Fine Gael to outline what the true cost of universal health insurance would be. He said a couple in the Netherlands in a similar scheme had to pay €5,000 per annum for health cover.
He said he doubted whether the two-tier system would end under UHI , as people would still be able to purchase additional benefits other than those provided under the State-controlled insurance scheme.
Ruadhan MacAodhain of Sinn Fein told the meeting that his party opposed UHI as they saw it as a direct privatisation of the HSE, and the party would limit consultant salaries to €150,000 a year.