Nursing Homes Ireland is taking its state aid case to the European Commission

A group representing private care homes is bringing a grant case to the European Commission over the amount of funding HSE is receiving under the Fair Deal scheme.

ursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has officially informed Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Older People Mary Butler that they have lodged a complaint with the Commission over what they consider to be an unfair financial advantage given to state care homes.

The move comes after the NHI ran a newspaper ad warning the government that private care homes will close if they don’t receive emergency assistance.

The group complained that state nursing homes receive 73 percent more funding than their members under the Fair Deal program. They said this equated to about €35,000 extra per inhabitant per year.

At the end of October, NHI Chief Executive Tadhg Daly wrote to ministers to inform them that his organization had lodged a formal complaint with the European Union.

“The state aid complaint relates to the state’s operation and administration of the Nursing Home Assistance Scheme (the Fair Deal Scheme) and more favorable funding arrangements for public nursing homes, as well as the cross-subsidization of public nursing homes from other parts of the public health service,” he said Mr Daly.

He said he understood that the commission would be in touch with the government regarding the representative group’s complaint.

“Notwithstanding our formal complaint, NHI remains open to a collaborative approach with the department to address funding discrimination in the home care sector to ensure a level playing field for all care homes, the highest standard of care for residents and a sustainable care home sector to meet care needs our aging population,” he added.

Mr Daly said he did not want to comment on the case if contacted.

Secretary of State for Older People’s spokeswoman Ms Butler said: “As this complaint is the subject of an ongoing formal collaboration between the Department of Health and the European Commission, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”

The Fair Deal program provides for the state to pay around 1 billion euros to private nursing homes to offset the cost of care.

The cost of the program will be reclaimed from the residents’ estates when they die.

Private care home operators say their costs have increased significantly in recent years and the contracts they have signed under Fair Deal do not take this into account.

The Government argues that HSE-run community care facilities provide more services than private care homes and that they therefore receive more funding.

Ms Butler recently gave the sector €10m to deal with rising costs related to record high inflation and energy prices. Nursing Homes Ireland is taking its state aid case to the European Commission

Fry Electronics Team

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