Further medical card restrictions sneaked in - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has accused the government of sneaking in further restrictions on medical card qualification while the Dáil is in recess and through a HSE announcement to Oireachtas members, rather than a public statement from a government minister.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"Oireachtas members have been informed by the HSE that further restrictions in medical card eligibility are being introduced this month.
"According to the HSE it is amending the eligibility criteria relating to medical cards by removing Home Improvement Loan payments and excluding the first €50 per week from travel-to-work expenses from the standard medical card means test assessment.
The exclusion of travel-to-work costs relates to removing the weekly amount of €50 allowed to cover standing charges (i.e. depreciation and running costs) used when considering travel to work costs as an outgoing where public transport is not available or suitable and a car is required. The HSE say it will continue to consider the standard mileage costs and transport (bus/train) costs when assessing eligibility.
"This further restriction follows the recent legislation which lowered the income threshold for medical card qualification for people over 70 years old.
"What is, in reality, another cut to health services has been sneaked in while the Dáil is in recess and announced through a HSE e-mail to Oireachtas members rather than a public statement from a government minister. Health Minister James Reilly and Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White are emulating their predecessor Mary Harney who regularly hid behind the HSE when such announcements were made."