Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

168 Mrs. O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the steps, if any, he took to ensure that provisions in the 1996 budget in relation to measures aiding the unemployed returning to work were progressed; the reason for the delay in having the medical cards provision finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17005/96]

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

284 Mrs. O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in drawing up guidelines for the budget provision in relation to the retention of medical cards by unemployed people taking up work. [17003/96]

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

285 Mrs. O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of people who have retained medical cards or received medical cards under the provisions announced in the 1996 budget for the unemployed taking up work. [17004/96]

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.