Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Ceisteanna (1249)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

1249. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the basis on which a saving of €11 million was estimated arising from the Budget 2014 decision to revoke medical cards awarded on the basis of returning to work having been long-term unemployed; his estimate of the number of medical cards that will be revoked as a result of this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47104/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As part of Budget 2014, the Government decided to change the rules, whereby persons who have been unemployed for 12 months retain their medical card for three years on returning to work. In this case, the medical card is retained by the person, and his or her dependents, for the three years irrespective of their means or income. The savings are based on an estimate of the number of persons expected to leave the Live Register in 2014 that would fall within this category.

The following additional information was provided under Standing Order 40A

As part of Budget 2014, the Government decided to change the rules under which persons who have been unemployed for 12 months retain their medical card for 3 years on returning to work and persons who take up approved training schemes retain their medical card for the duration of the scheme regardless of their means.

In future, it is proposed that persons who have been employed for 12 months will be granted a GP Visit Card on returning to work or taking up approved training schemes, irrespective of their means. Such cards will expire after 12 months or the end of the training scheme if sooner (unless the person is entitled to continue to hold the card based on the standard means test).

The savings target of €11 million was set by the Government having regard to the number of persons who are expected to leave the Live Register in 2014. At this point, it is not possible to provide a reliable estimate of the number of persons who are likely to be affected by the proposed rule change. This will only become clear following a detailed assessment by the HSE of the circumstances of each individual within the cohort concerned. It is possible - indeed likely - that some of those persons will continue to qualify for medical cards on the basis of the standard means test. It is also possible that some persons will continue to qualify for medical cards on a discretionary basis having regard to the particular medical or social circumstances of themselves or their dependents.