News Item

31 July 2015  
  

GP Cards For The Over 70s


July 31st 2015 saw the launch of the over 70s GP card. Is this genuinely the good news story this government is promoting it as? That depends. Yes it is truly great news for those over 70 who are in genuine need and will benefit. However, like the free GP care for under 6s initiative, this approach fails to benefit many who are in genuine need whilst at the same time rewards those who aren't. Those who can well afford to pay for their medical bills will receive a bonus win from this healthcare lottery whilst those over 6 and under 70 are still disadvantaged regardless of their need.
Let's look at some of the over 70s who will benefit this scheme; Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance - aged over 70, entitled to free GP care. Gay Byrne, Presenter, aged over 70, entitled to free GP care. President Michael D Higgins and his wife, retired senior bankers and retired senior civil servants over the age of 70, I could go on. It's clear that there are many over 70 that are well able to pay for their healthcare and now reap the rewards of this vote-grab initiative whilst many in genuine need continue to suffer.
It is well documented that in Ireland it is the pensioners who have the highest turn out on Election Day so it comes as no surprise to see lures such as this to try buy their votes. This is an election ploy by the austerity parties and has no real benefit to the public, especially those over the age of 6 and under the age of 70 with underlying health issues.
Again I push the issue of cancer patients as an example who, through no fault of their own, are forced to pay for their treatment, medication and possibly travel simply because they are either self-employed or paye workers outside these age brackets. How can a person suffering from a disease which affects daily life, to the extent cancer does, be made pay for treatment and doctors bills at a time when they possibly need financial assistance more than ever? But not so much as a bus pass will be provided. Unfortunately unless you can show proof of hardship or show you are terminally ill, if your under 70 you will still not receive a medical card.
This is shameful and wrong. It is nothing more than self-serving tokenism badly disguised as an investment in people and communities. If this government was genuine about providing access to healthcare they would do so according to need not age and they would look to remove the two tier system that sees the wealthy benefit most.
So as I finish this article, I hope I have helped bring across the need for real change and raised awareness of the "wolf in sheep's clothing" approach this government and all the austerity parties will employ to try and fool us into voting them back in. Let's not be fooled. The pain they have inflicted on us all has been suffered by us all and any change must benefit all who require it, not the headline attracting few.

Brian Finucane


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