The Health Budget will be cut by €781 million in 2013. Broken down, this is a ‘saving’ of more than €2.1 million per day.
Tax increases of €1.25 billion
Spending cuts of €2.25 billion
Key aspects of the budget that may affect people with MS include:
- Medical Card restrictions will be introduced in January 2013 with eligibility tightened.
- The prescription charge will be increased from €0.50 to €1.50 and the monthly threshold increased to €19.50. For people with limited income due to illness and who are on different forms of medication, this is a significant increase.
- For people who do not have a Medical Card, the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme is being increased to €144 per month.
- Anyone 70 years of age with an income of between €600 and €700 per week will have their medical card replaced with a GP card.
Who Cares for the Carers?
There have been cuts to the Carers’ Allowance and restrictions placed on the amount of respite time a carer can avail of:
- The Annual Respite Care Grant will be reduced by 22% from €1,700 to €1,375 (a reduction of €325). There are more than 75,000 carers who use this grant for respite and to purchase additional supports
- The reductions to the Household Benefits Package will directly affect people with MS as they often have additional costs in the areas of electricity, gas and telephone.
The cuts to health services affect every person in Ireland; everyone will need health care services at one time or another. However these are services many people with MS in particular rely upon. There was a reduction last year of 3.7% in disability and personal support expenditure. This current strategy will continue the dismantling of services for people with long-term medical conditions.
There has been a simplification of tax relief on Charitable Donations to a ‘blended’ rate of relief of 31%.
Living with a long-term neurological condition places more demands on finances and personal circumstances can be detrimentally affected by even small changes in income. Financial issues (income, insurance, medical bills) are already the greatest concern for 66% of people affected by MS*. The recent reductions to health care services, medical cards, and carers’ allowances must be seen as having a disproportionate affect on the lives of people with MS and others with long term conditions/disabilities.
To find out more about Budget 2013, please see the Government website: http://budget.gov.ie
*Regional Report Information, Jan-March 2012, MS Ireland