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The number of people with medical card eligibility on 1 May was 1,731,406, which included 104,671 persons granted eligibility on the basis of “the exercise of discretion”, according to figures supplied to the Dáil earlier this month by Minister for Health Simon Harris.
This number is higher than the total number the HSE estimated would have eligibility by the end of this year.
“The HSE estimate that the projected number of persons covered by medical card eligibility on 31 December 2016, as outlined in the HSE Service Plan, will be 1,675,767,” said the Minister.
“It is not possible to forecast the number of persons that will be issued medical cards by end 2016, based on the exercise of discretion, as each application assessment is based on the individual circumstances applicable to the applicant and/or the applicant’s dependants.
“On 1 May 2016, the number of persons aged 70 years and older with medical card eligibility was 333,825.”
Separately, in response to a question from new Labour Party Health Spokesperson Deputy Alan Kelly, the Minister said that the extension of free GP care to children aged six-to-11 years is a core part of current GMS contract negotiations with the IMO.
The Minister reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to extend GP care without fees to all children aged under 12 years. Combined with the over-70s and under-sixes, the Minister said that this “will bring the total number of those eligible for universal GP care, without having to be assessed by a means test, to approximately 1.2 million people.
“This will also be subject to ongoing negotiation with the IMO in relation to the scope of the service to be provided and the fee arrangements to apply. “