The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has today (Tuesday 24 January) received government approval to publish the General Scheme of the Health (Abolition of Public Inpatient Charges) Bill 2023.
The Bill, when enacted, will remove the acute public in-patient charge of €80 per day, up to a maximum of €800 in a year (including day-case charges), for people accessing care as a public patient in all public hospitals.
Announcing publication of the new legislation, Minister Donnelly said:
"I am delighted to receive government approval to publish the General Scheme of this important Bill.
"This draft legislation, when finalised and enacted, will remove for everybody the existing financial burden of public inpatient charges when accessing care in a public hospital. This measure builds on the abolition of public inpatient charges for children, which I introduced last year, and is another significant step in ensuring that people have access to affordable healthcare services.”
The General Scheme will now be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for priority drafting of the Bill. The text of the Bill will be finalised as a matter of urgency and it is intended to progress the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas as a priority in the coming months.
The General Scheme will be published on the Department of Health’s website shortly.
Currently public patients 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 card holders and other certain specific classes of persons are exempt from these charges. Primary legislation is needed to set out the legislative amendments required to the Health Act 1970 to abolish the public inpatient charge.
Funding was provided in Budget 2023 to abolish the acute public inpatient charge for patients in public hospitals. The text of the Bill will now be finalised by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General as soon as possible. The Minister for Health intends to publish the text of the Bill, when finalised, and to progress the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas as a priority in the coming months.
The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No.2) Act 2022, enacted last year, removes the acute public in-patient charge of €80 per day (including day-case charges) for children under 16 years of age in all public hospitals. This measure came into effect from 21 September 2022.