Fine Gael Front Bencher, Fergus O'Dowd TD has today (Tuesday) condemned plans by the Health Minister, Mary Harney, to allow the HSE to retain 25% of the interest earned on the accounts of nursing home patients.
Deputy O'Dowd said that the new regulation was unjustifiable and that the Minister was trying to sneak the measure through.
"This is yet another stealth tax on the elderly and the Minister is making the announcement in the summer months to try and sneak it through without due attention. The fact is that when the Minister outlined her plans for funding nursing home care late last year this measure was not included; to introduce it now is completely unjustifiable.
"Fianna Fáil and the PDs have a dismal track record when it comes to the elderly and bringing in this new regulation is just the latest Government assault on nursing home patients.
"This comes in the same week as we learn that less than half of those entitled to refunds as a result of illegal nursing home charges have submitted applications and less than a fifth of those who have applied have had their claims settled.
"Furthermore, almost two and a half years after the Leas Cross scandal, national quality standards for nursing homes are still only in their draft stage.
"This attempt to sneak through a new stealth tax on the elderly during the summer period suggests that the FF-PD-Green-Ind Government is set to perpetuate the unfairness of its predecessor. Fine Gael opposes the introduction of this regulation and is calling on the Minister to withdraw it."
Has the Government learned nothing? Increasingly it appears to be at war with the elderly. When Charlie McCreevy was Minister for Finance the blame could conveniently be laid at his door. McCreevy is gone but the meanness and pettiness continues. De Valera would turn in his grave. Per capita we are one of the richest countries in the world. This penny pinching at the expense of the elderly is unbecoming of a civilised society. Rescind this decision immediately.
Well done to Fergus O'Dowd on exposing this unfair imposition on the elderly.