The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has today received Cabinet approval for the abolition of the statutory public in-patient charge for children.
The Minister has received approval to draft the General Scheme of a Bill to provide for the abolition of both overnight and day-case public in-patient charges for children under 16. These charges have been in place for many years, therefore primary legislation will be needed to amend the Health Act 1970 to abolish the public in-patient charge for children under 16 years of age. The legislation needed to fulfill this objective will now be developed by the Department of Health and the draft Bill will be published as soon as it is finalised.
The proposed Bill will remove the existing acute statutory in-patient charge of €80 per night for all children less than 16 years of age in all public hospitals.
Speaking after Cabinet, Minister Donnelly said, “I welcome the approval by Government today for the drafting of this important legislation. This proposal is yet another important step towards delivering universal healthcare in Ireland. This legislation, when drafted and enacted, will ease the financial burden of parents/guardians when bringing their child to hospital for in-patient care and will help to ensure that cost is not a significant consideration when children require access to in-patient treatment.”
The Minister continued:
“Our goal is Universal Healthcare and this is another important step towards affordability as it will make our public hospitals free for children when they access treatment as a public patient. I hope that, with the support of all parties in the Oireachtas, these charges will be abolished by the summer.”
Currently, public patients (including children) are subject to a statutory public in-patient charge of €80 per night, up to a maximum of 10 nights (€800) in a 12-month period. Medical cardholders and other certain specific classes of persons are exempt from these charges. Primary legislation will be needed to set out the legislative amendments required to the Health Act 1970 to abolish the public in-patient charge for children under 16 years of age. Funding was provided in Budget 2022 for measures to alleviate the financial burden of statutory hospital charges incurred for children accessing care in a public hospital. The Minister for Health intends to publish the General Scheme of the Bill, when finalised, and to progress the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas as a priority later this year.