Limerick East): Under the Health Act, 1970, determination of medical card eligibility is the responsibility of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board. It was, therefore, necessary to discuss arrangements for implementation of this measure with the chief executive officers. This led to a slight delay in implementing the budget provision. Arrangements were agreed with the chief executive officers in July to enable persons who have been unemployed for at least one year to retain their medical cards for three years after entering employment, as announced in the budget. This measure is effective from the date of the budget.
The information the Deputy has requested regarding the number of persons who have benefited from the 1996 budget provision is not available at present. The budget provision enables persons unemployed for at least 12 months who are taking up employment to retain their medical card.