[Sinn Fein]

21 January 2002

New Medical Card guidelines ``would make you sick''

Sinn Fein General Election candidate for Meath Councillor Joe Reilly has slammed the new Medical Card Guidelines as issued by the North Eastern Health Board (NEHB) and which came into effect on the January 1st as proof that government promises of tackling the Health crisis were hollow words.

Councillor Reilly said:

``The new medical card eligibility rates are a sick joke. For a single person up to 66 years the maximum gross income has been increased from 100 per week to a mere 103.80 (132.00 EUROS). A 3.80 increase by a government that claims to be intent on resolving the inequalities in the Health Services would make you sick.

``The situation for a married couple is even more alarming. The eligibility rate for a married couple under 66 years has risen from 144.50 to a meager 149.99 (190.50 EURO). This is nothing short of a disgrace. Allowances for each child under 16 have been increased by only 68pence to 18.68 (83 Cents !!).

``It is clear that many families living on low incomes cannot receive the medical card. With medical visits now costing 35 EURO many low wage families will not be able to afford medical treatment. The government promises of action on health are proved a sham by these rates.

``Sinn Fein believes that Health care should be free for all at the point of contact. Fianna Fáil and the PD's are clearly sending a message to those on low incomes - `Don't get sick'``

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