Sunday 21 January 2018

Leo Varadkar: No more cuts to medical cards next year

Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar.
Independent Newsdesk

Independent Newsdesk

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said there will be no more cuts to medical cards next year

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Minister for Health revealed that the Health Service Executive’s 2016 service plan has been agreed and will have a budget of €13bn for next year.

The Minister revealed that “1.6 or 1.7m full medical cards are provided for under the plan”.

Mr Varadkar said there would be “no changes to income limits on medical cards".

“There will be no reviews to medical cards other than the usual review when your medical card expires.

“What we are predicting is 40,000 fewer people will be entitled to a medical card. That is down to rising employment and increasing incomes.”

The Minister said Health Service Executive’s 2016 service plan is a 6.7pc increase on the plan from last year.

“It is an increase of around €800m - €700m of which is required maintain existing services and meet pay costs. Around €100m will be set aside for new services and to ensure existing services.”

He admitted that under new rules, no overspend will be permitted next year.

Minister Varadkar also defended waiting lists times.

“Waiting lists in November fell by about 10,000. That didn’t make the headlines, but they did fall.

The Minister for Health said he has worried for patients’ welfare when they are “miscategorised”.

“Yeah, of course I am. Patients are categorised. They are categorised as urgent and they are seen quicker. There is always a concern that if someone is on a routine waiting list for a long time, that diagnosis could be delayed. The particular concern is that people could be miscategorised – that they could be urgent and should be seen quicker but for various reasons, they are not – sometimes with very severe outcomes.”

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