Devil is in the detail as Reilly’s figures add up to the number of the beast
A probity drive is reducing the huge number of medical cards in the system by weeding out people who don’t meet the eligibility requirements
Dr James Reilly
They’re putting a price on probity. But it’s got nothing to do with the eventual cost of the tribunals. Or proper accountability of the Government to the Dáil, for that matter.
Or Ministers favouring projects in their own constituencies.
It’s to do with reducing the huge number of medical cards in the system by weeding out people who don’t meet the eligibility requirements and reducing headage payments to GPs for cards no longer in use.
So it’s a “probity” drive in the Department of Health. Ring-fenced in Hawkins House. A Government wouldn’t want to be going mad with this probity thing. You’d never know where it might end.
It was probably a wise move not to leave the Minister for Strokes in charge of coming up with the final figure.
It’s going to be €113 million. Minister for Health James Reilly doesn’t know how that total was reached. He says “the Government” gave it to him.
The issue of the reduction in medical cards was up for discussion on the morning after Budget 2014. The House was kindly treated to the details after the media had been given a look.
“WikiLeaks is in the ha’penny place after the leaks about the budget,” complained Mattie McGrath (Ind).
“I heard the entire budget on Sean O’Rourke’s programme yesterday. I know he is trying to outdo Pat Kenny but he had the entire budget, line for line and syllable by syllable . . . It’s making a farce of this House.”
The Taoiseach was joined by the Tánaiste – on a rare Wednesday-morning Leaders’ Questions outing – and they robustly defended their budget.
Micheál Martin concentrated on the effect the “probity” drive will have on pensioners holding medical cards. The grey vote is very important.
The Taoiseach told him that 97 per cent of pensioners will have access to either medical cards or GP cards. Changes will apply only to those at the high end of the income scale.
Not that there was any change, Enda Kenny persisted in saying.
Older people watching on television will be amazed by the Taoiseach’s ability to say “black is white”, marvelled Micheál. “That’s why older people watching here are saying, ‘What’s going on in this place?’”
Enda whipped out a copy of Fianna Fáil’s 2010 budget to show what outrages they had planned for the elderly, sparking a competitive bout of cuts comparisons.
While Micheál Martin cherished the over-65s, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald opted for the under-25s end of the market.