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Callous medical card decision should be reversed – Ó Caoláin

16 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caolain has called on the Government to reverse the decision to reintroduce means testing for the medical card for over-70s. He said it is causing "deep anger, widespread confusion and huge concern" among older people.

He also highlighted the fact that the Fianna Fáil/PD/Green Programme for Government is actually committed to the extension of the medical card scheme.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"There is deep anger, widespread confusion and huge concern about the callous Fianna Fáil-Green Government decision to re-impose means testing for the medical card for over 70s. Sinn Féin offices continue to be inundated with calls from people affected by this decision.

"This retrograde step should be reversed without delay.

"The decision was clearly made before any of the details were worked out and this has added to concern and confusion, especially about the income limits that will apply.

"What is it going to cost to revisit people, some of them in their late 70s and 80s, to means test them? What will it cost in terms of their health and what will it cost in terms of administration? At a time of cutbacks, the Minister has landed the HSE with a massive bureaucratic burden that will divert resources from frontline healthcare services.

"The Fianna Fáil/Green/PD Programme for Government actually gives a commitment to:

· Index the income thresholds for medical cards to increases in the average industrial wage.

· Double the income limit eligibility of parents of children under 6 years of age, and treble them for parents of children under 18 years of age with an intellectual disability.

"When the over-70s medical card was introduced Sinn Féin asked if the principle of universal entitlement applied to them then why did it not apply to people under 18, to people with a range of medical conditions or, indeed, to all citizens. We should be moving towards a system of universal entitlement not away from it, as this Government is now." ENDS

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