Department of Health to get extra €150m
The Department of Health is being provided with an additional €150 million next year to ease its budgetary pressures, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has said in his budget speech.
Brendan Howlin said the extra money would be funded by taxation measures and an increased dividend payment to the State. The Department of Social Protection is also being allocated an extra €150 million for 2013.
Mr Howlin said the extra money would mean both departments will have to make a lower adjustment than anticipated next year. Before today’s announcement, it was expected the Department of Health would have to cut spending by €900 million next year.
One of the big surprises is the increase in the prescription charge from 50 cent to €1.50 per item. A doubling of the charge to €1 had been anticipated. The monthly threshold at which the charge is capped is also being increased from €10 to €19.50.
News that the monthly threshold for people claiming relief on costs under the Drug Payment Scheme is also being put up €132 to €144 will put even more pressure on families with long-term illness but who don’t qualify for a medical card. This will save €10 million.
As expected, access to medical cards for over-70s is being restricted. Individuals with an income of €600-700 per week (€1,200-1,400 for a couple) will now qualify only for a GP-only card rather than the full card.
Professional fees for GPs and pharmacists are being cut again, in a move which will save €70 million.
The price of cigarettes is to rise by 10 cent for a packet of 10, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced. This is much less than the €1 per packet increase sought by health campaigners.
Mr Noonan said the tax on a packet of roll-your-own tobacco will be increased by 50 cent.
Tax on the other “old reliable”, alcohol, is also going up, most eye-catchingly by €1 on a bottle of wine. In contrast, the tax on a pint of beer and on a measure of spirits is being increased by just 10 cent.
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