The drive to cut back medical card use has been defended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny because only 22 people have voluntarily given up free healthcare due to changes in circumstances.
Mr Kenny was responding to complaints from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that the new HSE Service Plan punished the sick and the vulnerable.
Mr Kenny said the U-turn on cutting €113m from medical card provision had occurred because Health Minister James Reilly realised that figure was “not achievable”.
The Taoiseach insisted cuts to medical cards of €23m could happen because some people no longer required that level of medical help.
“Only 22 cards in the entire country were returned voluntarily because of changes of circumstances, such as somebody getting a better job or benefiting from a rise in income,” he told TDs.
“There are more medical cards issued now than ever before. Therefore, the normal process of the validation of eligibility will continue.
“There will be an ongoing review of medical cards, as has always been the case. However, the figure that was included in the original budget was not acceptable to the minister, so he changed it.”
Mr Adams said the partial about turn on medical card cuts was systematic of a health department in chaos.
“All of this begs the question — from where did the minister pull the original figures in the first place?” he asked.
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