May 23, 2024
Allowances should be means-tested, as should medical cards – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has responded to the announcement that the government will begin means-testing the International Protection Daily Expense Payment.

The Cork South Central TD said that it is a logical step, but that the government’s failure to means-test medical cards was not, and needs to be addressed.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“Where someone is working and has an adequate income to sustain themselves, it makes sense that they do not need to have the full daily expense payment, and that it should therefore be means-tested.

“Means-testing is a standard part of how payments are administered here, and I note that the Comptroller and Auditor General conducted an audit, which led to this policy change.

“It also makes sense, where people are in Direct Provision and receiving meals and accommodation in that manner, that contributions should be made to costs on a differential basis. The government needs to address this.

“What does not make sense is that people who arrive under the temporary protection directive are not means-tested for their medical cards for a full year.

“Tens of thousands of people apply every year for medical cards but are denied because they have failed a means test. People who are here from Ukraine earning a wage should not have automatic access to a medical card, particularly when medical card holders can pay a lower rate of USC.

“If they qualify under a means test, then of course they should be entitled to it. There should be equal treatment. But a means test should apply to people arriving under the temporary directive and to those seeking international protection in the same way it applies to everyone else.

“Sinn Féin believes that means tests for medical cards can and should take place within two to three months of a person’s arrival here.

“In the longer run, Sinn Féin wants to deliver a healthcare service that is on a universal basis but until that is achieved, the rules around means testing have to be fair and apply equally across the board, there needs to be equal treatment.

“Sinn Féin have raised this on several occasions but the government has dragged their feet, and it is time for them to act.”

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