Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Medical card income move "welcome but long overdue and more needed"

13 October, 2005

Commenting on the raising of the medical card income guidelines, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said:

"The raising of the income guidelines is welcome if long overdue. Despite the Government's pre-election promise to extend medical card cover to a further 200,000 people, income guidelines were not raised sufficiently to keep pace with inflation and the numbers of people with medical cards declined. This has meant real hardship for many families.

"The changes announced today are positive but more needs to be done. As I pointed out to the Taoiseach yesterday, the money wasted on the failed PPARS IT system - 150 million and rising - would have paid for the extension of the medical card to all persons under 18 - 116 million according to the Department of Health and Children itself. I am again calling for the extension of the medical card to all children.

"While today's announcement is welcome it again points up the contradictions in this Government's health policies. On the one hand it is extending medical card cover, a key aspect of public, State-funded health provision that has proven its worth. On the other hand it is proposing to lavish public money on subsidising the private health industry through Minister Harney's crazy scheme to give land and more tax breaks to developers of private hospitals on public hospital sites. This scheme should be stopped and the money used to fund development of health services that will benefit people equally, including the promised primary care centres throughout the country." ENDS

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