Half a billion euro shortfall in health budget to be discussed by Cabinet

Close to half a billion euro shortfall in the budget for health will be discussed by the Cabinet today.

The gap in funding could lead to cuts in services or money being taken from other departments.

The Irish Examiner understands the Department of Health and Department of Justice will require additional funding.

The estimates process and spending ceilings for departments for 2016 were originally debated last December but then discussion froze during the election period.

Government sources say the Cabinet is expected to hear that health will be up to €450m over budget. Health Minister Simon Harris a said last week the HSE was €120m over budget for the first three months of the year.

Under strict new EU rules, the Government cannot plug the gap with a supplementary budget. Instead, the gap may have to be filled by rerouting funds from elsewhere or from other departments.

Meanwhile, the Government is expected to release its legislation programme for the coming weeks today, including 11 bills that will be prioritised. Three cabinet subcommittees will be set up to deal with the economy, infrastructure, and the Irish language.

Elsewhere, the Government looks set to accept a Fianna Fáil private motion this week calling for action to address rising motor insurance costs. Fianna Fáil wants a task force set up and say motorists have seen their premiums rise by a third in the last year.

Fine Gael Finance Minister Michael Noonan is expected to tell the Cabinet the motion from opposition counterpart Michael McGrath does not contradict government policy and should be allowed to pass.

The motion, which will be voted on tomorrow and has the backing of Sinn Féin, also wants a national claims register established to keep track of where insurance costs are spiking and why.


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