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The Government has reneged on four key commitments contained in last year’s Budget to improve access to healthcare, according to Róisín Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats.

Deputy Shortall, who is the party’s spokesperson on Health, said:

“Cost is a major barrier to accessing quality healthcare, whether it’s the cost of medicine or the cost of visiting the GP. This goes to the very heart of Sláintecare, which is about providing universal, quality healthcare to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

“As part of Budget 2020, the previous Government agreed that the GMS prescription charge would be reduced by €0.50c for all medical card holders by July.* However, the Minister for Health has now confirmed to me that he is not in a position to reduce the prescription charge as promised and has kicked the can down the road to 2021 with a vague commitment to keep the matter under review.

“The prescription charge isn’t the only health promise in the Budget to fall by the wayside. The medical card income threshold for over 70s has still not gone up by the promised €50 for a single person and €150 for a couple, due by July. Nor has the Drug Payment Scheme threshold been lowered by €10 to €114 per household or free GP care extended to all children under eight, both promised by this September.

“By shelving these commitments for a later, unspecified date and failing to communicate these timeline changes to the public, this Government has shown a complete disregard for the very real way that medical costs can impact on people’s lives.

“The changes promised in the last Budget were part of the vision of Sláintecare, and putting them on the long finger not only jeopardises the health of the people affected but also calls into the question the priorities of this Government at a time when quality, preventative healthcare has become more important than ever before.”

September 16, 2020

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