“At least one in seven of those who received the over 70s medical card will lose it, based on the Government’s own figures, but in reality hundreds more local pensioners are likely to lose this vital health support as a result of the removal of the automatic right to a card,” claims Denis Naughten TD.
“A serious threat still hangs over the 2,800 pensioners throughout the Roscommon/South Leitrim Constituency who are in receipt of the over 70s medical card, as a result of the Government’s callous decision to introduce a means test.
“And the reality is that pensioners do not trust this Government, who could come back at any stage and increase the age limit or reduce the income limit for the entitlement to the medical card.”
Deputy Naughten continued: “Even as it stands, many couples who lose their partner may also lose their medical card. Because of the way the income limits are now structured it is pushing bereaved and mourning spouses out of the medical card zone by a slim margin.
The Government obviously believes that these people are the ‘fat cats’.
“And what about those over the age of 70 who are just over the limits and diagnosed with cancer, will they get a card? No, not unless they go through layers of paper and an appeals system, which could take months.
“It is also the case that the introduction of the means test is a Trojan horse, and one that can be used to water down the entitlements of the elderly over the coming months.
“What is to stop the Government removing the free travel, free electricity and free telephone entitlements? And all this hardship for a mere €20 million, a third of the cost of the electronic voting machines.
“This sum could have been found in so many different places. What about the banks who are getting away very lightly even though they created their own mess. Why not take another €100m from them?
“But no, the Government policy is to save the banks and screw the pensioners,“ concluded Denis Naughten.