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Senator queries EU medical card rules 05.11.14

LABOUR Senator Lorraine Higgins today called on the Minister for Health to explain why pensioners who never contributed to the Irish social welfare system can get non-means tested medical cards while those that have contributed "leave their health in peril because of ineligibility".
"Time after time I have had people come into my clinic with illnesses so grave that it beggars belief why they do not satisfy the requirements for a discretionary card if they fail under other criteria," she told the Seanad.
"Not only that, like many other Oireachtas members, I have numerous people contacting me about the fact that they have had their cards taken off them. So for me to discover that under EU Regulation 1408/71 pensioners have an automatic entitlement to a non-means tested medical card if they are in receipt of a social security pension from another EU/EEA state or Switzerland is astonishing.
"In addition, under the situation highlighted, you are not subject to PRSI for earnings, and are not employed or self-employed in Ireland, you will be automatically entitled to one.
"So basically if you have never contributed to the Irish social welfare system in any way you will be entitled to a non-means tested medical card while those that have may not. There is something fundamentally wrong about this and we need to address it now," Senator Higgins added.
"Health is an issue that concerns many people but particularly pensioners who worry about falling ill and the cost of paying for it and I know that so many would welcome a reprieve from the excessive cost of health care.
"This issue needs to be immediately addressed and the Minister needs to clarify what he is going to do about leveling the playing field when it comes to medical cards in this country."
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