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Friday, October 17, 2008

Ireland's elderly respond to Medical Card withdrawal

Ireland's Over-70s are responding the the FF-PD-Hobbit coalition's decision to take away their medical cards in this week's budget:


Missing Neighbour said...

I have read a bit more into this one. It seems that the real reason that the government are cutting this system is because quite a lot of doctors are abusing it (Treating conditions and prescribing drugs that aren't really needed). So this piece of legislation is now costing ten times the amount it was originally supposed to. It seems that the doctors are turning out to be just as greedy as the dentists are in the republic. They should be ashamed of themselves. Yet more money snatched from the public purse by (seemingly) self serving elite.

JC Skinner said...

Not quite.
Here's what happened: Fianna Fail wanted to buy the 2002 election, and came up with this idea to get the elderly vote in the bag (because they vote in larger numbers than other age groups.)
So they announced it before the election, but without negotiating it with the doctors first.
The doctors, knowing they had FF over a barrel, demanded four times the usual money to do it. FF had to sign up.
Now, conditions and drugs aren't the issue. Drugs are covered by other schemes and doctors don't have anything to do with them other than prescribing them.
Equally, as doctors are paid an annual capitation fee per person, it's in their interests that the elderly DON'T come near them from one year to the next.
Whether they're there once a year or once a day, the doc gets the same amount annually from the state.
One issue is the fact that they get one amount for those who qualify for a medical card, and four times as much for the over-70s who aren't means-tested.
Now Cowen announced last night on the 9 o'clock news that he wants to re-negotiate with the docs.
As far as I know, the docs are prepared to sit down and hear what he has to say. They never were in favour of the scheme to begin with.

Missing Neighbour said...

I await the outcome of said negotiations with interest. The last set of negotiations that I can remember the government having with the doctors (consultants) led to the doctors being paid shit loads of money and threatening to effectively go out on strike if their demands were not met, but sure hope springs eternal. What’s the average government bill per consultant these days? Around 400K? (And that excludes all the money they make on the side with private practice). Bock the Robber had a great piece on it a while back:

JC Skinner said...

Bock the Robber wouldn't know a good link if it bit him on the arse.
Average hospital consultant wages vary from speciality to speciality, and the teaching element attached to the post, if any, plus any private practice income, if any.
Therefore there are consultants on 120K and consultants on 400K.
Needless to say, no consultants earn anything like the HSE admins overseeing them (Drumm's kitchen cabinet's salaries are horrific).
The image of the pampered, perma-golfing consultant is a pervasive one, just like the image of the superrich farmer who always whines with a begging bowl out.
But scrutiny reveals that neither stereotype actually pans out in reality, and both serve as useful lies for the Government and certain other vested interests.