The Taoiseach has insisted he had no input into any legal strategy in relation to nursing home charges.
Leo Varadkar was speaking amid allegations the Government deliberately prevented people illegally charged nursing home fees from getting refunds.
On The Pat Kenny show this morning, the Taoiseach said he has asked the Attorney General to look into the report – but insisted the issue was “a lot more complex” than has been reported.
Yesterday, The Mail on Sunday published allegations that the Department of Health had been told to limit the amount of compensation awarded to individuals who had been overcharged for care.
Mr Varadkar served as Minister for Health for two years between 2014 and 2016 and said that he had not seen the memo during that period.
“I think it is fair to say that the way it was presented on Sunday … the real picture is a lot more complicated," he said.
"Certainly what I can say; I was never party to devising or agreeing a legal strategy in relation to nursing home charges.”
He said his officials have been working to get all the facts from the Department of Health and from the Attorney General’s office since the story broke - but insisted that it relates to a 2011 memo thatit appears was circulated to four ministers "none of whom are in the current Government".
Two Dáil committees are set to examine the claims and Labour has asked the Government to publish any documents pertaining to the issue “without delay for proper scrutiny”.
“What is fair to say is that the true picture is going to be a lot more complex and different from how it was presented,” Mr Varadkar continued.
“This is a memo from 12 years ago; it would appear to talk about contingent liabilities that never arose.
“It said, for example, that the compensation for the public nursing homes would be €5 billion, it was actually €450 [million] - it was 9% of that figure, so those figures are not figures that are in any way still valid.
“What it seems to relate to is nursing homes charges prior to the Fair Deal.
“So, these would have been people who paid for private nursing homes.”
Under the Fair Deal, individuals pay a certain amount towards the cost of their care and the State pays the balance.
“My understanding is, and like I say, this is all pre-2009,” Mr Varadkar said,
“There hasn’t been a case since 2014 lodged with the Department and this is only my initial understanding - we have asked the Department and the Attorney-General to look into it - is it relates to people who paid for private nursing homes and they argued that because they had a medical card, they were entitled to a full refund of the cost - regardless of the cost or regardless of what nursing home they chose.
“The State has never conceded that but there have been some cases that have been settled and that will be the case from time to time.”
Main image: Leo Varadkar in the Newstalk studio. Image: Newstalk