Reilly admits charge is 'barrier to medicine'
HEALTH Minister James Reilly has admitted the decision to triple the prescription charge for medical card holders may be a barrier to people getting the medicines they need.
Medical card holders have paid out more than €105m since the charge was introduced three years ago.
The minister was one of the strongest critics of the last government when it introduced the charge at 50c and he vowed to abolish it. But it has tripled under this Government.
"I am but one member of Cabinet. I still have reservations about it but I cannot win all battles. I am a member of a government that is trying to turn this country around," he said.
He added he would prefer to follow the NHS system where the prescription charge did not apply to the lowest one-third of earners.
The minister was speaking on RTE Radio's 'Today with Sean O' Rourke', where he was quizzed on policy U-turns and delays in delivering on pre-election promises.
He said there were strong signals that Cabinet would give the go-ahead to begin the phased introduction of free GP care for young children from next year and there was a budget of around €40m to deliver it.
He reiterated his belief that it could still be extended to the rest of the population by 2016. However, no talks have yet taken place with GPs on the issue.