I propose to take Questions Nos. 545 and 561 together.
I understand that the Deputy is referring to the new eligibility rules for medical cards for persons aged over 70 years, announced in the Budget 2013. These rules will not take effect until later in 2013, after primary legislation has been enacted. The implementation date will be announced and publicised in advance by the Department and HSE. As is the current situation, the revised thresholds will apply to gross income. There is provision for discretion by the HSE to grant a medical card in cases of "undue hardship" where income guidelines are exceeded and this provision will not be effected.
In the case of all reviews and renewals of medical cards, the HSE offer assistances to individuals in assessing their situation under income limit thresholds, as some may be unsure about their gross income or have concerns or difficulties in relation to self-assessment. This will continue to be case after the legislation is enacted and will be further bolstered by staff in local health offices who provide information, support and assistance to individuals in relation to their eligibility on an ongoing basis. They can also provide information on the current status of a review, being in a position to track the application on the centralised Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) office in Finglas.