I'm talking out of turn here, but if anyone is interested in a practical solution to the over 70s medical card fiasco, there's my tuppence worth.
I might be asking a rather obvious question here but if the GPs charge the state €640 (the figure itself isn't really relevant at the moment) for giving people over 70 a level of card consistent with a medical card then shouldn't it be possible to set a number of bands of support and tailor the subvention from the state towards that 640 annualised figure that would relate to your income (we could look to factor in assets too but that would be really messy to administrate).
So let everyone under 17K (or whatever the annualised figure for the minimum wage is) per annum get 100% of that GP yearly charge paid by the state,
those between 17K and the average industry wage gets 75% of the figure paid by the state and pays 25% themselves (which at 100 odd quid for as many visits as you like isn't very bad value.)
Those at the 130% of the average industry wage pay 50%
those at 150% of the AIW pay 75% and
those on pensions over twice the AIW can pay the full whack or pay per visit.
I wonder if anyone will take the idea up, I've also no idea how much it would save. But this is the sort of pragmatic idea that our politics lacks. I believe that the government has acted in bad faith by removing the cover, but it also acted badly by providing the cover in such a profligate manner by giving the cover to all and sundry irrespective of income or wealth. I've long believed that the all or nothing status of the medical card is just plain wrong.
Perhaps someone from the department of finance might look to run the numbers...