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Medical Cards.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 8 July 2008

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Ceisteanna (201, 202)

James Reilly

Ceist:

233 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made on the programme for Government commitment to index the income thresholds for medical cards to increases in the average industrial wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26751/08]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Reilly

Ceist:

234 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made on the programme for Government commitment to double the medical card income limit eligibility of parents of children under six years of age and treble them for parents of children with an intellectual disability under 18 years of age; when her review of eligibility criteria will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26752/08]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 and 234 together.

In recent years there have been significant improvements to the way in which people's eligibility for medical cards and GP visit cards is assessed. Since the beginning of 2005, the qualification guidelines have increased by a cumulative 29% (7.5% and 20% in January and October 2005 respectively). Assessment is now based on a person's and, where relevant, his/her spouse's income after tax and PRSI, and takes account of reasonable expenses incurred in respect of rent or mortgage payments, childcare and travel to work.

In June 2006, there was a further increase in the qualification threshold for the GP visit card to 50% above that for a medical card (previously 25%). Furthermore, under the assessment guidelines, persons whose weekly incomes are derived solely from Department of Social and Family Affairs payments or HSE payments, even if these exceed the stated threshold, qualify for a medical card.

The Programme for Government commits to the following:

Indexing the income thresholds for medical cards to increases in the average industrial wage;

Doubling of the income limit eligibility of parents of children under 6 years of age, and trebling them for parents of children under 18 years of age with an intellectual disability.

In conjunction with the development of a new legislative framework to provide for clear statutory provisions on eligibility for health and personal social services, my Department is reviewing the assessment criteria in the context of financial, medical and social need in line with the commitment in Towards 2016. A Steering Group has been established which is expected to complete this work in autumn 2008. It is my intention to then consider how best to progress the commitments in the Programme for Government in relation to medical card eligibility.

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