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Budget a bitter disappointment on healthcare and medical cards

5 December, 2007


Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the Budget does nothing to address the crisis in healthcare and reneges on the commitment to extend medical card eligibility. He described as “disgraceful” the 10% rise in hospital charges and the change in the Drugs Payment Scheme which means people will now pay over €90 per month, before benefiting.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

 

“This Budget will be a bitter disappointment to those who were promised by this Government that more families would be entitled to the medical card. In the Programme for Government they promised to double the income limit eligibility for parents of children under 6 and treble it for parents of children with a disability. They have reneged on that commitment. The Government could well afford to extend the medical card to all children under 18.

 

“The 10% increase in hospital charges is disgraceful. The change in the Drugs Payment Scheme will mean that non-medical card holders will have to pay over €90, an increase from €85, per month, for medicines before benefiting under the scheme.

 

“Once again low to middle income families have been let down and are bearing the brunt of the inequity in our health services.

 

“There is nothing in the Budget to help create greater equity in healthcare and it does nothing to address the health crisis. The cap on the number of people employed in the public service remains, a cap that hits the health services badly, especially in front-line care.

 

“There is no special additional allocation to phase in the 3000 extra hospital beds required. There is no special allocation to provide additional single rooms and isolation units in our hospitals to combat the spread of MRSA and other virulent hospital-based infections.

 

“Minister Cowen left tax breaks for developers of private for-profit hospitals in place and the shameful ‘co-location’ scheme will go ahead, funded by taxpayers’ money and reinforcing the two-tier system.

 

“The biggest percentage increases in health spending are 146% for inquiries, legal fees and settlements and 42% to the State Claims Agency for payouts in cases of clinical negligence. This reflects the crisis in our health services and its cost in monetary terms – let alone the massive human cost.” ENDS

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