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Questions remain after Government stand down on medical cards

Posted on October 21, 2008 at 06:02 PM

Today has seen a spectacular stand-down by the Government on its proposal to abolish the automatic right to a medical card for the over 70s.

The Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore TD speaking about the decision said: "The announcement by the Taoiseach on revised criteria for eligibility of the over 70s represents a climb-down by a Government on a budgetary issue that is unprecedented in recent decades.

"It is a particular political humiliation for the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, who devised the scheme and the Minister for Finance who made it a central part of his first Budget."

Labour believes the Government should have scrapped the original proposal and stuck with the principle of universal access to medical cards for all those over 70.

The issue was raised during Leaders' Questions this afternoon in the Dáil when Eamon quizzed the Taoiseach about the Government's climb-down.

He said: "The Taoiseach said in the formula announced this morning that 95 per cent of people over 70 will qualify for medical cards. If that is the case why don't you do the decent thing and leave them with the automatic entitlement to a medical card."

You can watch Eamon's contribution to the debate in the accompanying video while the full debate will be available on the Oireachtas website later this evening.

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