Dáil Éireann - Volume 594 - 02 December, 2004
Written Answers. - Medical Cards.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
61. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the timescale for delivery of the promised 200,000 general practitioner-only cards; the legislation that will be necessary to provide for them; the estimated cost per card in comparison with the cost per card of the full medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31583/04]
Mr. Stagg Mr. Stagg
62. Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when she intends to honour the commitment previously given to extend eligibility in order to provide an additional 200,000 full medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31542/04]
Mr. Boyle Mr. Boyle
100. Mr. Boyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when she intends to introduce the 200,000 full medical cards as promised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31709/04]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 61, 62 and 100 together.
The health strategy includes a commitment to making improvements in the income guidelines in order to increase the number of persons on low incomes who are eligible for the medical card and to give priority to families with children. With a view to implementing this commitment, an additional €60 million has been provided for in the 2005 Estimates for health to improve access to primary care by enabling 30,000 additional persons to become eligible for a medical card, and free access to GP visits for a further 200,000 people on low income.
The Government’s policy remains as stated in the programme for Government, that is, to extend eligibility for medical cards rather than to achieve coverage of a certain percentage of the population or to issue a specific number of medical cards.
The annual cost of the new “doctor visit” card is estimated to be €250 and the annual cost of a full medical card is estimated to be €1,000. Subject to clarifying legislative and administrative issues, the new doctor visit card will be introduced as soon as possible in 2005.
My Department will be working closely with the health boards-authority over the coming weeks, and the HSE, which is due to assume responsibility for the service in 2005, to oversee the operation of the scheme and arrangements  have already been agreed to put the processes required in train.
Dáil Éireann 594 Written Answers. Medical Cards.