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Over-70s to get means test card forms ‘in weeks’

Resource type: News

Irish Independent |


ALL 350,000 medical card holders over 70 years of age will be sent new application forms “in the coming weeks”, the Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed yesterday.

A spokesman said elderly applicants will also be able to avail of the standard appeals process if they are turned down for renewal of their card.

It follows the Government’s decision to end automatic entitlement to a medical card for the over-70s and to introduce means testing. 
The decision has been a source of great controversy since the Budget.

The Cabinet will today consider a report from Eddie O’Sullivan, the independent chair appointed to recommend a new, yearly capitation fee for GPs with medical card holders over 70 years.

The Government is hoping to make the fee around €340 in a bid to knock €16m off the medical card bill.

He was asked to look at the “need to secure savings” and also the scope for savings in drug costs.

Health Minister Mary Harney has the power to set the flat fee and it is a matter for each GP to decide if they accept or reject.

Around 20,000 people over 70 are expected to lose their card due to the introduction of means testing.

However, they will have a right of appeal. If anyone is not satisfied with the refusal they can have it reviewed at their local health office and then go on to the Appeals Office to reassess the application.

This will be carried out by HSE staff who were not involved in assessing the original application. The over 70s, unlike other groups, will not be entitled to a GP visit card under the news rules. All existing medical card holders over 70 will not have to undergo a means test, but must declare if they are over the income cut off point . However, anyone who turns 70 next year will have to undergo a means test and provide documents with evidence of income.

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