Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Government policies are exacerbating the inequalities in the health service by facilitating a private health care system.
Addressing the Dáil last night, the Killybegs-based deputy said a hastened implementation of Sláintecare would be very welcome.
Deputy Pringle said he would not support the Government’s Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2020 because it exacerbates inequalities in the health care service.
He said: “The financialisation of human lives; the health insurance ‘market’; we are all commodities in this marketplace called neoliberalism.” The Risk Equalisation Scheme was approved as “state aid” for 2016-2020, and this bill would extend the scheme for a further 15 months.
The deputy said: “The reality is this was put in here because successive governments have broken the system. And this was put in here to facilitate people who can afford private health insurance, and that’s the bottom line.”
Deputy Pringle said: “I have been studying the instances and prevalence of Covid in Donegal and areas around Donegal and our neighbouring counties in the North. The areas with the highest levels of deprivation have been most impacted. You can almost map it completely to the higher levels of Covid alongside the less affluent areas.”
The deputy referenced a study in early 2020 by the Health Information Authority that found people with private health insurance were more likely to be from the more affluent, white-collar/professional cohort.
Deputy Pringle said: “This bill is facilitating a private health system.”
He said: “The Programme for Government, ‘Our Shared Future’ committed to accelerating the implementation of Sláintecare, which, I’ve said, is very welcome.
“However, because of Fine Gaelness/Fianna Fáilness, the Government explicitly states its support for private healthcare, saying that it would ‘retain access to private health services, ensuring choice for those accessing health care.’ The irony is never lost on you, Minister. The only people who have choice are those who have the means to afford private health care.
“What you should say is ‘ensuring choice for those that can afford it.’ That would be a truer statement,” he said.