Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (129)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

260 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the recent ESRI report which stated that the health of middle-income persons is suffering due to the fact that they are delaying costly general practitioner visits; the steps she intends to take to ensure that those above the medical card threshold can afford to visit their general practitioner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25083/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

The consultation fees charged by general practitioners to their private patients are a matter of private contract between the doctor as the service provider and the patient as the service user. The Department of Health and Children has no role in this relationship.

As regards the issue raised in the ESRI report in relation to the current income guidelines for medical cards, it is the case that the Government is fully committed to the extension of medical card coverage as set out in the health strategy. This will focus on people on low incomes and will give priority to families with children, particularly those with a disability. The timing of the introduction of the extension will be decided having regard to the prevailing budgetary position.