It is nothing short of a national disgrace that the Government is hitting our old age pensioners to cut their budget losses with the abolition of the automatic entitlement of over 70s to medical cards.
For a long time the government’s right wing agenda has meant we have had a two-tier health service. But this decision will effectively give our pensioners a four-tier health system. Some will have medical cards, others will have GP cards, some will receive their €400 in cash, while others will have nothing at all.
There is genuine fear, anger and utter confusion among retired people over the treatment meted out to them by Fianna Fáil in this week’s budget. The removal of the medical card from over-70s will have a serious impact not just on people’s finances, but on their health.
While considerable attention has been drawn to the adverse financial implications that the government’s removal of the medical card will have, the implications for the state of their health are as bad if not worse.
We know for example that the medical consultation rate for people who became eligible for these cards jumped by 73%. This removal of the requirement to pay has meant more people going to the doctor for a check-up, a flu vaccine or for a routine visit and as a result, illnesses that can be identified at an early stage are being caught. This means that people are being treated before their condition becomes chronic, when they would invariably end up as a patient in hospital.
We also know from census data that the percentage of people over 70 who had a disability dropped appreciably between 2002 and 2006. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that this is as a result of better access to primary care and improved management of existing health conditions.
GP services and prescriptions are not the only services that will be out of bounds for those losing their medical cards. This ill-thought-out plan means they will not be able to get access to flu vaccine, home help packages, incontinence wear, dressings, nor to community physiotherapy and occupational therapy services.
Simply put, this decision must be reversed immediately.
This stingy Government targeted old people, workers and young families instead of their own developer buddies and the super rich. They’ll bail out bankers and speculators but not elderly people who have worked and contributed to society for all their lives. Labour is committed to a different kind of politics and a different kind of economics – truly putting people before profit.
Notes: WITHDRAWAL OF MEDICAL CARD FOR OVER 70s PROTEST
ORGANISED BY THE SENIOR CITIZEN’S PARLIAMENT
DATE: Wednesday October 22nd
TIME: 12:30 to 1.30pm
VENUE: Outside Dail Eireann, Kildare Street
WITHDRAWAL OF MEDICAL CARD FOR OVER 70s PUBLIC MEETING
ORGANISED BY AGE ACTION IRELAND
DATE: Tuesday October 21st
VENUE: O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel, Fenian Street, Off Merrion Square, Dublin 2 (beside the Eircom Building / Gingerman Pub)