Written Answers. - Free Dental Scheme.

Brian Cowen

Ceist:

78 Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has to extend the free dental scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7307/95]

Limerick East): In January of this year I extended eligibility for dental services to children up to their fourteenth birthday. I am considering a further extension next year which will give eligibility to children up to their sixteenth birthday.

Under the new dental treatment services scheme introduced by my Department on 1 November, 1994, dental treatment for all adults with medical card eligibility will be phased in over a four year period.

In the initial phasing of the scheme persons aged 65 years and over have been identified as a priority group and additional resources have been made available to health boards to enable them to provide dental treatment, including denture treatment, for this group. Emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain is, available to all medical card holders irrespective of age.

However, where their existing resources allow, health boards will continue to provide routine dental treatment to adults who have not yet reached 65 years.

I will also be giving consideration to extending the scheme later this year to an additional age cohort of adults.