The Government has dramatically slashed the target from its planned cull of medical cards by almost 80pc, Independent.ie can reveal.
The so-called medical card probity was supposed to save €113m.
But under the HSE Service Plan agreed by the coalition today, the saving will be less than €25m.
The shortfall will be made up nearly €50m coming from the social welfare budget, as a result of lower than expected rates of unemployment.
The remainder will come from savings from pay, pensions and other areas within the Department of Health and HSE.
Supporters of Health Minister Dr James Reilly’s always argued the controversial €113m was imposed upon him in Budget 2014 by the Department of Public Expenditure.
The abandonment of the original €113m target for the controversial medical card probity was first revealed in the Sunday Independent a fortnight ago.
But the black hole in the probity figure has increased even more in the intervening period.
The €113m estimate was hugely controversial as it appeared to have been created at the last minute.
The Cabinet today signed off the HSE Service Plan for 2014, which will be published tomorrow.
The reduction on the medical card probity figure means the overall adjustment is down from the infamous €666m to a new adjustment of €619m.