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Disgraceful decision to impose prescription charges on medical card holders – Ó Caoláin

28 June, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

“Disgraceful decision to impose prescription charges on medical card holders” – Ó Caoláin

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health & Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “a disgraceful decision” the Government’s move to impose prescription charges on medical card holders. He said it is unnecessary in cost terms and undermines the medical card scheme. He said:

“The Fianna Fáil/Green Government has now published the bill to impose prescription charges on medical card holders. The Government’s move to proceed with these charges is a disgraceful decision that will once again hit the most vulnerable citizens and families. They are proposing to force the legislation through the Seanad this week and the Dáil next week before the summer recess.

“These charges will further undermine the medical card scheme and penalise more than 1.3 million medical card holders. While initially the fee is set at a maximum of 50 cent per item and €10 per month, the Bill gives the Minister the power to increase the charges. Undoubtedly these fees will be increased in the coming years, further eroding the value of the medical card.

“There is widespread agreement that the cost of medicines to the State needs to be reduced but it has already been shown that huge savings can be made without imposing prescription charges. Last February an agreement between drugs manufacturers and Health & Children Minister Mary Harney made projected savings of €94 million in a full year on the cost of drugs. Further savings will be made through the use of generic drugs and more are possible through cutting out the excessive profiteering of manufacturers and distributors.

“Health Minister Mary Harney has already imposed cuts on dental services for medical card holders. This is the same section of our population that is suffering social welfare cuts and the worst of the other health and education cuts.

“Sinn Féin will vehemently oppose these prescription charges.” ENDS

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