Taoiseach says new communications strategy will allay medical card fears

SF leader calls for general election

Micheál Martin: said people in life-threatening situations had cards withdrawn

Micheál Martin: said people in life-threatening situations had cards withdrawn


A new communications strategy has been put in place to allay people’s fears about medical cards, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

He said those who needed a medical card would get one. “We have full medical cards, GP-visit cards, discretionary cards, emergency cards, long-term illness cards and cards on review,’’ he added. “Sometimes these things can be very confusing.’’

He added that sometimes the information was not supplied to people in the HSE and that had to be rectified.

Mr Kenny, who ruled out any reversal of the medical provisions in the budget, said it was important to understand that the number of people with access to free GP care was the highest ever in the State.

“Some 43 per cent of our population now have that access,’’ he added. “There are 1.866 million full medical cards and 124,900 GP-visit cards, giving a total of 1,991,000.’’

Process of change
Mr Kenny said he had seen some of the cases, dealing with the withdrawal of cards, highlighted in the media and believed that the system should have been able to deal with them. Something was missed in the process of change.

“I know of two cases where the card has been granted in the meantime because of the full information becoming available,” he added.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said people in life-threatening situations had cards withdrawn. “The Taoiseach keeps saying there was no change,’’ he added.

“However, the 2013 service plan, approved by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, stated that policy changes would lead to a reduction of approximately 40,000 medical cards as a result of income calculations, including for those over 70.’’

Mr Martin said people were terrified about next year and the provision in the budget for a reduction of €113 million “on the basis of this wonderful word probity’’. They knew what happened this year when the edict went out from Government to start removing cards from people.

Mr Kenny said the main thrust of the changes being brought about was to protect services for those who needed them, children, the sick and the elderly. “We are doing that against a background of unmitigated disaster, which was aided in the main part by the gentleman speaking opposite,’’ he added.

General election
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams called for a general election, adding that the Government had no mandate for what it was doing.

“The Taoiseach should outline to members his vision of the type of small country that will emerge from these austerity policies,’’ he added. “The Government is making the State the worst small country in the world in which to be sick or to grow old.’’