Harney denies threatening to quit

Health Minister Mary Harney has denied reports that she threatened to resign over the medical card controversy.

Reports this morning claim Ms Harney threatened to stand down if the hugely contentious plan to remove the automatic medical-card entitlement from over-70s was scrapped.

However, speaking in Dublin today, she said the reports were untrue.

"The Taoiseach is my boss," said Harney. "I don't engage in threats. I don’t play that kind of politics."

Speaking about the recent decision to introduce a means test for many over 70s applying for the medical card, Harney said: "We knew it was going to be a difficult decision, it was not one we came to lightly.

"We have to make very tough decisions for the next two three years.

"I still firmly stand behind the view that we should not give medical cards to all over 70s regardless of their circumstances."

Meanwhile, Ms Harney also said the Government is not in a position to negotiate new medical-card fees with GPs because of Irish and European competition law.

The Government is understood to have contacted the IMO to discuss possible reductions in the fee structure

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