Govt targeting pensioners with more medical card cutbacks – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has strongly criticised the Government for targeting the over 70’s for medical card cutbacks over the last year.

Deputy Smith made the comments after receiving information which shows the Government removed 16,356 medical cards from pensioners between April 2014 and April 2015. Almost 300 medical cards were removed from the pensioners in Cavan and Monaghan during that time.

“It is just over a year since the Government was forced to row back on its disgraceful cutbacks to discretionary medical cards. However it seems Fine Gael and Labour are now focusing their efforts on targeting the over 70’s with medical card cuts,” said Deputy Smith.

“Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil through a parliamentary question shows the Government has removed 286 medical cards from pensioners in Cavan-Monaghan since April 2014. The cutback amounts to the loss of over 16,000 medical cards when the figures from across the country are taken into account.

“Pensioners depend on their medical cards to help cover costs and to ensure they have access to the healthcare they need. The Government has removed a vital safety net for thousands of people following its latest round of medical card cutbacks.

“These figures also understate the Government’s agenda for imposing further hardship on pensioners. A number of people have contacted my office to point out that their medical cards are only being renewed on a temporary basis, with an expiry date set for April or May next year. It is no coincidence that these cards are due to expire shortly after the General Election, and demonstrates what is in store for medical card holders if Fine Gael and Labour are returned to power.

“These latest cutbacks are just another part of a long running Government campaign to target pensioners for savings. This Government has already scrapped the telephone allowance, abolished the bereavement grant, increased prescription charges fivefold and removed over a million home help hours.  The reduction in medical card allocations is another example of the Government targeting older people, who have already faced harsh cuts brought in by this Government over the past four years.”

Note to Editor: Find attached a county by county breakdown of medical card cutbacks for the over 70’s between April 2014 and April 2015