May 1st: In a statement issued following its April meeting, the Irish Executive Committee of Unite expressed support for the principle of Universal Health Insurance but warned that the current proposals, which are not based on ability to pay and which involve competing private providers, could undermine social solidarity. Instead, the union has urged the Government to introduce a social insurance-based model with a single public sector provider.
“Unite believes that the flat rate payment currently envisaged by the Government would be regressive. Instead, universal health insurance should be operated through the PRSI system, and payments should be a fixed percentage of income: the higher the income, the higher the contribution”, the statement pointed out.
“Employers, employees and the self-employed should share the costs of universal health insurance. Instead, the current proposals exempt employers from any responsibility to fund healthcare, placing the entire burden on workers’ shoulders.
“Unite is also strongly of the view that universal health insurance should be provided through a single public agency – VHI being the obvious candidate in this regard. The current proposals, which envisage competing private sector companies, will lead to a race-to-the bottom both in terms of health coverage and in terms of workers’ conditions in the companies concerned. This will be the inevitable outcome of a profit-driven model”, the statement concluded.