The Health (General Practitioner Service and Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Bill 2020, enacted on 2nd August 2020, provided for an increase to the gross medical card income limits for those aged 70 and over to €550 per week for a single person and to €1,050 per week for a couple.
Budget 2020 provided for this measure and it also provided for a number of measures to reduce the cost of medicines for the general public including a €0.50c reduction in prescription charges for medical card holders. This would have represented a reduction of €0.50c to €1 per item for persons aged over 70 years, and a reduction of €0.50c to €1.50 for persons under 70. The intention was that the maximum monthly charge would also be reduced to €10 for the over 70’s and to €15 for the under 70’s.
Although it was intended that these measures would be implemented from July, funding of these Budget 2020 commitments was contingent on the achievement of certain savings within the health budget. However, these savings have not been achieved as the Pandemic has placed a significant demand on public finances, a substantial proportion of which has been allocated to the health system.
In that context, decisions on the associated funding and a potential implementation date are being actively considered.