Great news everyone!
If you have private health insurance because you were a fiver over the income threshold for a medical card, then guess what? Yes, you have just earned yourself the right to be charged a whopping €813 for a creaky, zero privacy stay on an HSE hospital trolley.
But wait, it gets better.
Not only will you be charged almost a grand for the privilege of sleeping in a crowded narrow corridor, possibly next to the loved ones of some unfortunate soul who was denied access to a residential psychiatric facility; you will also have to pay an additional €813 for every single night you remain on that trolley.
This cheery bit of ‘systemic failure for everyone in the audience’ information was confirmed to the Independent TD for Clare, Michael McNamara, in a response provided by the HSE to a parliamentary question that he had placed to Minister Stephen Donnelly.
At University Hospital Limerick, the most overcrowded hospital in the country, a trolley in a corridor is considered to be a "multi occupancy room" and costs €813 per night. @DonnellyStephen – change this. pic.twitter.com/DVkOVa1Dn1
— Michael McNamara TD (@MlMcNamaraTD) October 9, 2020
We can assume, by the wording of the PQ that it was placed on foot of representations made by an angry, bewildered, confused (all of the above?) constituent who is quite possibly still at a complete loss as to how he or she was charged such an amount.
The reply itself is of course a masterpiece of bureaucratic logic. It is just so ‘reasonable’ sounding, you see. I mean how could any rational person fail to see that a corridor is the exact same thing as a ‘multi-occupancy room’?
If you are looking for something to blame, the reply clearly suggests, then blame it on the Health Act of 1970 as amended by the Health Amendment Act 2013.
This is the HSE effectively saying, ‘we only implement the laws that you gobshite politicians concoct.’ And you know, on that they have a fair point.
Because if the thoughts of being charged €813 a night for a trolley was not depressing enough, then here is another little bit of important information that Deputy McNamara would have been well to remember before he raised the matter.
That is, he actually voted through the Health Amendment Act 2013 when he was a Labour Party TD back in the Dark Ages. At least that is what Alan Kelly probably calls it when the leadership was sans the light of his glorious presence.
It gives me absolutely no joy to say that because as it happens, I think Deputy McNamara has been an outstanding Chairman of the Oireachtas Covid-19 Committee.
He has also contributed some genuinely insightful analysis on the draconian nature of the law underpinning the Covid restrictions. On the issue of the charging however, he has called on Minister Donnelly to sort this travesty out.
Does anyone think that this will happen what with dear Stephen posing for self-congratulatory social media posts and instructing videographers to compose lists of his greatest achievements?
Maybe he needs to lie down for a while after the mauling he received in the weekend press where even the backroom staff of normally reticent civil servants have come out baying for ministerial blood.
Well if he does need to lie down, he should just make sure it is not on a HSE trolley or else it will cost him an arm and a leg. Unless of course he is one of those lavishly well-paid ministers who could probably afford it unlike the rest of the population who may have found themselves a few quid outside the limit for a Medical Card.