Taoiseach tells Dáil all over-70s will get free GP visit cards

Micheál Martin says people in their 90s are among 35,000 who lost their medical cards

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny:  “Government has made a decision that all persons over 70 will obviously be entitled to access to GP services.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “Government has made a decision that all persons over 70 will obviously be entitled to access to GP services.”

Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 01:00

Every person over 70 will be entitled to free GP visits, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil.

An agreement has been reached between Mr Kenny and new Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton about key policy priorities in the run-up to a Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Kenny signalled the change yesterday during the Order of Business after questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. He said up to 35,000 older people over 70 were having their medical cards taken. They had been told to apply for discretionary medical cards on the basis of the income thresholds for under 70s.

“Some very sick people are losing their medical card – 90-year-olds, 80-year-olds – and even if they have a very serious condition that would in ordinary times merit a medical card; they are not getting it.”

Mr Martin said all TDs were receiving representations from the relatives of 80- and 90-year-olds who were losing their medical cards because of the cut in the threshold introduced in the last budget.

Number of options

The Taoiseach said the Government was considering a number of options in the roll-out of primary care services for different categories, including the over 70s. “Government has made a decision that all persons over 70 will obviously be entitled to access to GP services.”

Under medical card eligibility income limits, revised in January this year, people over 70 are currently entitled to a medical card so long as their gross income does not exceed €500 a week for a single person or €900 for a couple.

They are entitled to a free GP-visit card if their income is over €500 but less than €700 for a single person and €1,400 for a couple.