Irish Medical Organisation

Universal Health Insurance (UHI) should be shelved and Government should focus on development of Universal Healthcare.

“UHI will go down as one of the biggest cases of political mis-selling in recent history.” – IMO President
Tuesday 17th November 2015. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has said that it is now clear that the policy of Universal Health Insurance (UHI) is being shelved and the only question remaining is when the Government will officially disown it. The IMO has strongly criticised the policy of Universal Health Insurance from the outset.  The organisation described UHI has “a harsh insurance based financial model mis-sold by the Government as a commitment to equitable health care”.   The IMO continued; “UHI was nothing more than a vehicle to decimate the public health services and to maximise profits for private insurance companies while giving them a pivotal role in determining who receives what healthcare.  That can never be good for patients.” 
Speaking today, the President of the IMO, Dr. Ray Walley, said that the Government’s promotion of Universal Health Insurance was one of the biggest cases of “political mis-selling” in recent history.  He said; “UHI was mis-sold as a commitment to Universal Health Care but it was never about that.  UHI was about a new financial management model.  A clear distinction must be drawn between UHI and Universal Healthcare.  The key beneficiary of the UHI model are the private insurers and there are no improved outcomes for patients. Government should focus on a plan to provide a properly funded Universal Healthcare model either through taxation or social insurance and there are many examples where this has been achieved successfully.  At all costs public health services must be kept under public governance.  The first priority of our healthcare system must be the welfare of patients and introducing a UHI model puts patient interests in direct conflict with commercial enterprises.”
Dr. Walley said that the IMO has always been opposed to the UHI model and instead supports a model of Universal Healthcare that is publicly funded and governed in the interests of patients.  Any model must be based on five key pillars:
·       Affordability
·       Equity of Access
·       Choice
·       Timely Access to Care
·       Quality of Care and Value for Money
Dr. Walley said that the fixation with UHI meant that this Government has achieved little on reforming the health services; “We’re coming to the end of this Government and it has been a period of lost opportunity.  The pressure on the next Government to make real progress on the health agenda is all the higher as a result.”

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