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Taoiseach trying to rescue Fianna Fáil and still failing pensioners – Ó Caoláin

19 October, 2008


Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, responding to the Taoiseach Brian Cowen's interview on RTÉ's This Week programme, said we have "a punch drunk Government making health policy up as it goes along". Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Fianna Fáil/PD/Green Government is reeling from the furious public reaction to their decision to re-impose means-testing for medical cards for the over-70s. The Taoiseach, in two prime-time media appearances, has attempted to limit the damage to Fianna Fáil but he is still failing pensioners. He has made clear that means-testing for the over-70s will go ahead. The key decision remains in place.

"That decision to means test the over-70s was hastily taken without any planning or consultation. It will create a massive bureaucratic task for the HSE, diverting more resources from front-line healthcare and social services which will be subject to further cuts in the months ahead.

"What we have now is a punch drunk Government making health policy up as it goes along. The Taoiseach has succeeded only in sowing further confusion. He claims the basic change to means testing will go ahead on 1 January and speaks of some measure to make more people over 70 eligible for the medical card. But any negotiations with the IMO to reduce fees for medical card services will almost certainly be prolonged, making the 1 January deadline untenable.

"The Government decision to re-impose means testing for the over 70s should be reversed without further delay. Enough anguish has been caused to older people.

"Those Government backbenchers who have rightly protested about this measure should be equally exercised about the whole range of other health cuts we will see in the months ahead." ENDS

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