Medical card move is ‘scandalously unfair’

by Aisling Kennedy

LOCAL politicians have reacted with shock at recent figures released by the HSE showing that 2,065 medical cards have been cut from the over-70s in the Dublin South constituency in just one year.
South Dublin has been hit with the highest level of cuts despite a significant rise in the population of older people in the area.
Following the release of the statistics, Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP) told The Gazette that he saw no excuse for the medical card cuts.
“These cuts to medical cards are really scandalously unfair and it’s going to cause huge hardship for elderly people who worked all their lives and paid taxes. These people now face having their medical cards stolen from them when they need them most.
“The idea that elderly people who live in Dun Laoghaire are better off is nonsense. First of all, there is much higher property tax to pay out here, and also the cost if you have to go into hospital or if you have to go and see a consultant is really cumulative.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett added that he found it particularly annoying that the parties in government who are allowing the medical card cuts are the same parties who “condemned the very same actions by the last government”.
In response to Deputy Boyd Barrett’s comments, Cllr Peter O’Brien (Lab) said: “There is a higher proportion of cuts in Dublin South because this area has the most aged population, especially in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.
“I generally think there should be universal healthcare. With the roll-out of the free GP care for the under-sixes, we are aiming to roll out free GP care to the over-70s, too.
“I welcome when that happens as we will be able to help the most vulnerable – our youngest and our oldest,” he said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “As a consequence of the decisions made by the current Government in recent years and the enormous sacrifices made by Irish people, we are now in a position to reverse some of those cutbacks.
“For instance, we are introducing free GP care for everyone aged 70 or over from next month.
“This will benefit 36,000 older people who currently have to pay for their doctor but will no longer have to.
“The rules for discretionary medical cards have been relaxed further, meaning that the highest ever number of people who fall outside the means test have retained a medical card.”

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