Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has highlighted discriminatory cuts to the medical card entitlements of young job seekers following a cut to social welfare payments for those aged 18 – 26.
According to the Donegal Senator, the reduced job seekers payment for those under the age of 26 means that they are no longer entitled to apply for a medical card on income grounds.
Senator Ó Domhnaill questioned Junior Health Minister Alex White about the matter in Seanad Éireann last week.
“These people fall between two stools,” the Donegal Senator explained.
“The national assessment guidelines on medical card eligibility state a person aged between 16 and 25 may have entitlement to a medical card or a GP visit card if they meet a number of criteria. Either they must be a dependent of a person with a medical card, or they must be financially independent. But in order to be considered ‘financially independent’ they must be earning at least €164 a week. That means that job seekers aged 26 and under, who now receive a payment of just €100 a week, are not earning enough to apply for a medical card,” the Donegal Senator said.
“There is a loophole here as one should not have to prove financial hardship or undue hardship just because one earns less than €164. A 27 year old person who receives a social welfare payment of €188, whether living at home or not, will be entitled to a medical card. But someone who is 24 years of age and has seen their social welfare payment cut to €100 per week, will not be entitled to apply. They are being discriminated against by very virtue of their extremely low income.”
Senator Ó Domhnaill called on the Government to change the medical card eligibility for young job seekers who are in serious financial difficulty. In response, the Junior Health Minister Alex White refused to budge.
“There are no proposals to change the income thresholds for standard means tested medical card eligibility,” said Minister White.
Senator Ó Domhnaill described it as extremely unfair.
“This is essentially one Department working against another. Someone needs to sit down and work this out. The fact that they are earning too little should not make them ineligible for a medical card. It makes absolutely no sense. If such individuals get sick, how will they be able to afford to go to a doctor? They are being left high and dry. I ask the Minister of State to examine this issue again because it is simply unfair,” the Donegal Senator said.
Posted: Feb 18, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized