Wednesday 24 May 2017

How hated 'tax on sick' will be cut in Budget

Prescription charges for medical card holders are set to be slashed in the
upcoming Budget. Stock Image: PA
Prescription charges for medical card holders are set to be slashed in the upcoming Budget. Stock Image: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Unpopular prescription charges for medical card holders are set to be slashed in the upcoming Budget - bringing the maximum monthly cost down by as much as €5.

That cost is expected to be capped at €20, along with a cut of up to 50c in the €2.50 levy on every prescription item.

The prescription charge, which forces medical card holders to pay more than €120m in prescription fees annually, is to be gradually phased out in the lifetime of the Government.

Pensioners on several medications are particularly affected by the charges as the cost quickly mounts to the current maximum of €25 a month. The extent of the cut is being finalised, but Health Minister Simon Harris is expected to announce the cut in October.

Age Action, which has campaigned for the removal of the charges affecting 1.7 million card holders, said it is "a tax on being sick, a tax that has gone up 500pc since it was introduced in 2009".

Meanwhile, a deal to restore pay equality for newly qualified teachers is expected to be struck in the next week or so.

It would bring an end to two-tier pay scales, which have left young teachers up to €5,000 a year worse off than older colleagues. More than 7,000 teachers, recruited to primary and post-primary schools since 2012, would gain from the deal.

Irish Independent

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