[Sinn Fein]

29th November 2001

Medical card decision incredible

Message from government is  ``Live patient and you'll get treatment''

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as ``incredible'' the decision of the government not to extend eligibility for the medical card. The Cavan/Monaghan TD said:

``Having unveiled the most comprehensive ever review of the health services the government now tells us that it will not take the one vital short-term action needed and that is to extend medical card eligibility. This is incredible. Nothing is to be done on medical cards in the remaining term of this government and we are told that the planned extension will not begin until 2003 - `budgetary considerations' permitting.

``The message from the government is `Live patient and you'll get treatment'. Instead of decisive action on the delivery of health services to those who can least afford them the government offers promises.

``Sinn Fein will fight the forthcoming general election on our policy which calls for free comprehensive health care for all, beginning with the extension of medical card eligibility to all under 18 and to all on or below minimum wage.''

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