Age Action has called on the Government to ensure that its review of discretionary medical cards addresses the impact which the loss of cards has had on older people.
“Older people have been hit this year by the double whammy of cuts to the income limits for an Over-70s Medical Card and the loss of discretionary cards,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said.
Eligibility for Over-70s Medical Cards is assessed only on grounds of gross income, with costs such as nursing home costs ignored by the assessment. “This has resulted in cases where people who are already paying 80% of their income for their bed and board under the Government’s Fair Deal scheme have lost their Over-70s Medical Card,” he said. “From the remaining 20% of their income they are now expected to pay for their medications, their physiotherapy and chiropody, and a list of other costs which are not covered by the Fair Deal. It is causing great hardship for older people and their families and must be addressed by the Medical Card review.”
Age Action is also demanding that successive cuts to the eligibility income level for an Over-70s Medical Card be halted. Income limits have fallen from €700 per week (gross) for a single person/€1,400 for a couple in 2008 to €500/€900 gross in 2014.
“These cuts mean that older people on multiple medications and living with chronic illness and disability are losing their cards based on their income rather than their medical needs. Any proper review of the Medical Card system must address this issue,” Mr Timmins said.