Extra 14,000 people will be entitled to GP visit card

Scheme expanded to include those in receipt of carer’s benefit, says Finian McGrath

  Finian McGrath stressed the importance of enacting the legislation before the summer recess so the service can be in place for carers in September. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Finian McGrath stressed the importance of enacting the legislation before the summer recess so the service can be in place for carers in September. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

An extra 14,000 people will be entitled to a GP visit card as a result of an expansion of existing schemes to those in receipt of carer’s payments.

Finian McGrath, the Minister of State for Disability Issues, announced the move in the Dáil last night during a debate on the Health (General Practitioner) Bill.

It had been announced last December that those in receipt of a carer’s allowance would be entitled to GP services without fees.

Mr McGrath said yesterday it had now also been expanded to those in receipt of carer’s benefit, which is a short-term payment paid for up to two years to someone who gives up work to care for a person who needs full-time care.

Carer’s allowance is a similar payment but it is means tested. The level of payment for each benefit for someone aged below 66 caring for one person is €215 and €214 respectively.

Mr McGrath, a Dublin Bay North TD, said further examination of the initial proposal allowed for the expansion of more GP visit cards.

“The purpose of the Bill, therefore, is to provide a general medical and surgical service free of charge to persons in receipt of either carer’s allowance, both full rate and half rate, or carer’s benefit. This Bill will result in approximately 14,000 additional persons being eligible for a GP visit card enabling them to access vital GP services without having to give consideration to their ability to pay for this service.”

Mr McGrath said some people may be full-time carers for only a number of weeks, while others may be caring for a number of years.

“I would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of enacting this legislation before the summer recess so that this service can be in place for carers in September,” he said.