Press Release

Minister confirms medical card holders not to be disadvantaged by increases in social welfare payments

In order to allay the concerns recently expressed, the Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., today (20 February 2002) confirmed that the recent increases in social welfare payments will not lead to medical card holders losing their medical cards.

“My Department has advised the Health Board Chief Executive Officers that medical card holders will not lose their cards on account of the record increases in social welfare rates announced in the Budget,” said the Minister.

The Minister reiterated the Government´s commitment to extending medical card coverage as set out in the new National Health Strategy. This will focus on people on low incomes and will give priority to families with children (particularly those with a disability). In the broader context, the Strategy emphasises fairness and the objective of reducing health inequalities in our society. A whole series of initiatives are outlined to clarify and expand the existing arrangements for eligibility for health services, including many of the recommendations drawn directly from the Review of the Medical Card Scheme carried out by the Health Board CEOs under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, such as:

  • Streamlining applications and improving the standardisation of the medical card applications process to ensure better fairness and transparency;
  • Providing clearer information about how and where to apply for medical cards;
  • Proactively seeking out those who should have medical cards to ensure they have access to the services that are available.

The Health Boards have been asked to make every effort to ensure that both medical card holders and applicants are made fully aware that the recent increases in social welfare payments will not disadvantage them when applying to hold or retain a medical card.