Skip to main content

Medical cards for over-70s ‘are being reviewed’

Resource type: News

The Irish Times |

HEALTH Minister Mary Harney confirmed yesterday that the over-70s’ automatic entitlement to a medical card is under review and health spending increases for next year will be “negligible”. The minister said she was not “ruling anything in or ruling anything out” on medical cards. Meetings A number of cost-cutting proposals are being discussed by the Cabinet and more pre-Budget meetings are scheduled for today and Sunday, she added. There is strong speculation that two areas likely to be hit are A&E charges, which may be increased from the current €66, and the Drug Payment Scheme which puts a limit of €90 on the amount private patients have to pay each month for medicines. The over-70s medical card scheme was introduced in 2000 and was seen at the time as a pitch for the grey vote. Any changes made to save money would have to be weighed against the fallout on votes. Confirming that spending increases for next year would be negligible, the minister signalled that many services would be under severe pressure in 2009. “The rate of increase in health spending will be neglible next year in comparison with other years,” she said. Increases “We ran increases up to 20pc in some years and multiplied it four-and-a-half times compared to 11 years ago. “We will not be increasing health spending in that kind of order at all.” On the question of taxes, Ms Harney said it was important not to eradicate the source of Ireland’s past economic success. “Low taxes on investment in Ireland have delivered unprecedented investment in this economy from the United States in particular. We have to continue to reward investment and enterprise to encourage activity in the economy and also to reward people who work for a living.” She added: “We have a narrow tax base in Ireland and we have to be very careful we don’t undo the policies that deliver economic success.” Blueprint The minister was speaking as she launched a book setting out a blueprint for the future of nursing and midwifery. ‘Nursing and Midwifery in Ireland — A Strategy for Professional Development in a Changing Health Service’ was written by Yvonne O’ Shea, chief executive of the National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery. Under her plan, nurses will work in modern teams rather than structures based on historical hierarchies. The minister said more healthcare assistants should be hired to do some of the work traditionally carried out by nurses. – Eilish O’Regan, Health Correspondent

Related Resources


Aging, Health

Global Impact:

Republic of Ireland


health care, pensioners, senior citizens