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
"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."