Press Release

Minister Martin denies reduction in expenditure on GMS Scheme

Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D, Minister for Health and Children wishes to clarify the position in relation to medical card eligibility following press coverage of the ICGP annual conference at the weekend.

Contrary to reports, there has been no attempt to limit the number of people qualifying for medical cards. In fact income guidelines for the scheme are increased each year broadly in line with the increases in the Consumer Price Index.

While there has been a reduction in the percentage of the population covered by medical cards, this can be attributed to the improvement in the economic situation resulting in a rise in peoples´ income generally with a consequent decrease in the numbers qualifying for medical cards.

The total costs of the GMS scheme have continued to rise as follows:

Year Total % Increase
1998 £319.6m
1999 £348.5m + 9.04%
2000 £397.5m + 14.06%

 The issues of eligibility and income guidelines are currently being reviewed by the Chief Executive Officers of the Health Boards. It is expected that this review will inform the wider question of eligibility for health services generally, including medical card eligibility, which is currently under active consideration in the context of the new health strategy at present being formulated.