Tuesday 16 January 2018

Grey lobby in pledge to fight medical card charge


Mark Hilliard

OLDER people are preparing an organised backlash over controversial plans to introduce medical card charges.

The Older & Bolder support network said it was to begin rallying its members to campaign against the threat and to bombard TDs with calls.

While it is unclear if protests against the suggested move will reach the level of fever pitch achieved following the previous government's decision to withdraw automatic entitlement for the over 70s, what is certain is that the elderly community will not stand idly by.

The O&B group dismissed the potential €50 tax on cards ahead of next month's Budget as an "ad hoc" approach to plugging the country's finances.

Yesterday, it urged its members to contact TDs and other local representatives to voice objections to the proposals.

"It is absolutely essential that those services we have, which are patchy, underdeveloped and inefficient, are at least protected at the current level," said O&B director Patricia Conboy.

"Adding ad hoc charges isn't going to fix the problems. Remember medical cards are in the main taken up by people who actually need them.

"If we need to generate more income what we need is a more progressive tax system."

Ms Conboy was speaking at the launch of the 'Make Home Work' initiative at Dublin's Westin Hotel yesterday. The group said that despite 25 years of successive Irish governments supporting the notion of aging at home with community support, no policy had been implemented to back this up.

According to an Ipsos MRBI poll conducted for yesterday's launch, some 85pc of people surveyed said they would prefer to grow old at home.

Medical cards are considered one of five central services necessary to ensure people's ability to remain in their homes, together with secure state pensions, access to public transport, public health nursing and involvement in voluntary groups. Also flagged were home help services, access to day centres and respite, and support provided by voluntary organisations.

Irish Independent

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