The Competition Authority has recommended a number of changes to the awarding of contracts for the medical card scheme which it believes would benefit patients.
It says access to general medical services should be opened up to all qualified GPs.
The Authority says this contract is very valuable to GPs but it favours existing practises and protects them from newly qualified doctors.
That, it believes, limits the number of general practictioner practices given that very few GPs operate without one.
It's also recommending that GPs who have the medical card contract, should be free to set up in or move to the location of their choice.
Some 1.6 million public patients on medical cards and doctor visit only cards are entitled to free care by their GPs.