Cowen to face FF backlash on over-70s medical cards

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, is expected to face widespread anger from within his own party when Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators meet at Leinster House today.

One Fianna Fáil TD has already quit the party in protest at the decision to remove the automatic medical-card entitlement from over-70s as part of last week's budget cuts.

The decision has caused a major backlash against the Government and Mr Cowen has already hinted that he may increase the proposed income thresholds at which over-70s would lose their medical cards.

However, he has insisted that the plan to introduce a means test will go ahead.

Meanwhile, the cabinet is also expected to discuss possible changes to the controversial 1% income levy when it holds its regular weekly meeting today.

Trade unions and anti-poverty groups have condemned the Government's plan to impose the levy on all workers, including part-time employees and those earning the minimum wage.

Over the weekend, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan suggested that a minimum threshold may be applied to the new tax in order to exempt the low-paid.

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