Medical Card Budget U-turn by Brian Cowen

After a week of uproar because of the introduction of means testing for medical cards for over 70’s – Brian Cowen called a press conference this morning. It was reported and expected that an almost complete reversal of that decision was going to be announced.
The original proposal meant that 30% of over 70’s would lose the Medical Card.
At the press conference it was confirmed that the income thresholds were going to be increased
The new thresholds are €700 for single people and €1400 a week for a couple – will get a full medical card. Only new applicants from Jan 09 will need to undergo a means test. It is “hoped” that those over the limit will own up of their own accord. No checks will be made on income levels for existing medical card holders.

There is also going to be discussions about changes in the payments made to GPs for Medical Card holders.
Brian Cowen said he expects the same amount of savings to still be made – but it is hard to understand how that can be the case.
Mary Harney also spoke about the fees paid to doctors – stressing how much more they got for over 70s. The cost of drugs was also mentioned – and they hope to get reductions in the drugs bill.
It is hard to understand why a couple with a net income of €1400 a week need help with their medical costs – whilst young families earning much less will not get a medical card or even a GP visit card. It is not a fair system.

Now maybe they will also do something about the education cuts – which affect the youth of this country – who are just as important as the over 70’s.