The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, has announced he has received Government approval to extend free GP care to all children under the age of 13, beginning with children aged 6 and 7 in 2020.
The Minister confirmed the Department of Health will now draft a Bill to extend GP care without charges to all children of primary school age and to increase the income limits for medical card assessments for people aged 70 or more.
The decision to extend GP care without fees builds towards the Government’s commitment to ensure access for all children, as well as on the Sláintecare Plan for universal access to healthcare without charges.
This legislation will enable the extension of GP care without fees to 6 and 7 year-olds this year and provide the basis for phased extension of GP care without fees to all children under 13 in the years ahead.
The implementation of the budget measure giving access to medical cards for those aged 70 or more will see an increase in the weekly gross income threshold to €550 for individuals or €1,050 for couples. It is estimated that this measure will benefit up to 56,000 people.
Minister Harris said: “This legislation will improve access to GP services for children and increase the numbers of those over 70 who have access to a medical card. It reflects the Government’s commitment to delivering healthcare for all.
"We remain determined to ensure that cost should not be a prohibiting factor in children accessing appropriate healthcare when and where they require it, and this decision is a significant step towards meeting that goal.
"Likewise, it is important that older members of our society are enabled to access the healthcare they need, and the revision of the income limits as announced in Budget 2020 will see improved access to healthcare for up to 56,000 people in this group."