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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 8

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Farmers' Eligibility for Health Services.


asked the Minister for Health if it is his intention to amend the regulation which in effect operates against the agricultural community by departing from the usual basis of assessment of farmers' eligibility for health reliefs, viz. valuation of land, and in this case making land and buildings the basis, thus depriving hundreds of farmers of any benefit.

The rateable valuation on which farmers' eligibility to hospital and specialist services and certain other services has been assessed has included both land and buildings since the definition of the middle income group was first made in 1953. Since 1st April, 1966, farmers with valuations of land and buildings up to £60 have been eligible for these services and it is estimated that about 87 per cent of them are now eligible.

I do not think that the operation of this existing provision has unreasonably excluded farmers from the services, but an opportunity to discuss the formula will arise on the Health Bill.

I have found from my experience with the health authorities that this particular section of the Bill has interfered very seriously with farmers getting their just rights. It does not occur in any other social service where a farmer's income is generally assessed on his valuation but in this case it is assessed on land and buildings. I suggest it should be the same thing with the lawyers and the professional gentlemen who will find no one at all qualifies. I am putting that fairly. In my opinion it is a matter which the Minister should guarantee he will remedy when he brings in his new Health Bill. Otherwise we will have to propose amendments to it.

No better man.

(Cavan): With regard to the reference to the Health Bill could the Minister give us any indication when it will be discussed?

It is with the printers.

The printers are not on strike I hope?

I am glad to see my old friend Deputy Corry is standing up.

I will be standing up long after you lot.

We will attend to you after the general election. You keep in with me and I will not let you down.