Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Ceisteanna (212)

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

286 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of general practitioners only cards allocated on a county basis at the latest date for which figures are available. [8493/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, child-care and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the assessment guidelines for GP visit cards and these are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for these benefits, it is the appropriate body to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.