Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has asked the Health Minister to finally confirm that he has formally abandoned the central health policy commitment on which his party fought the last election.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “When Leo Varadkar was promoted to the Department of Health, he was entering a scene of chaos and confusion, following the reign of Minister James Reilly.  Despite the clear and mounting evidence to the contrary, James Reilly had continued to insist that plans for mandatory health insurance were still on track.

“But rather than try to get the policy in hand, explain the cost and move towards implementing a key election promise, Minister Varadkar began quietly drawing a veil over the policy.  First kicking it into the long grass as he waited for additional information and now briefing journalists that he is going to conduct a fundamental review of what it would look like, what coverage would be available and what other models might work.  He has carefully avoiding giving straight answers on the potential cost of mandatory insurance.

“We now have the extraordinary situation where the Government of the country and the Health Minister do not actually have any costed health policy.  Meanwhile, waiting lists break all records and families across the country despair at stories of centenarians lying in corridors on hospital trollies.

“Minister Varadkar should do the honest thing and finally put this mandatory health insurance plan out of its misery.  It is clear to anyone who has followed his actions since coming into the Department that Leo Varadkar will not be introducing the mandatory health insurance scheme that his party campaigned for ahead of the last election.  His plan is clearly to tie it up in reviews and investigations until the next general election comes and he no longer has responsibility for it.

“This is a deeply disingenuous approach from the Minister and the Government and it needs to stop.  Fine Gael was very clear in the last General Election campaign about what it was going to do in health.  It has now walked away from that plan, without explanation and without any trace of an alternative.”