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October 13, 2014



It goes back to the problem that we have in this country - public and social welfare services/benefits are by and large cash-based. Normally, if you make this point, you can guarantee that someone, shall we say, establishment-oriented, will pounce and interpret this observation as meaning you're in favour of utterly vile notions such as food stamps. What I mean by 'cash-based' is simple entry into public services, from things like A&E charges to, as Michael points out above, charges for creches and school books and so forth.

We need a proper push for more public services that are free at the point of provision, and not designed to prevent use. Universality gets a bad name in the media and among the political class, and a neat trick performed in this regard is to feign outrage at a millionaire being able to access services at the exact same level as a minimum wage worker or an unemployed person. What they really mean, of course, is that they'd rather have 'the choice' of exclusivity in gaining access to such services (via VHI, private pensions), and leave it to the lower reaches of 'the squeezed middle' to look on with resentment at the medical card holder (but still struggle to pay for VHI and a soon-to-tank private pension into which they are being forced by the State, and so on and so forth).

Brendan O'Donoghue

You state the following, "if you don’t have a medical card, you can get relief of 20 percent on medical expenses". This is only true if you pay income tax. The poorest people on very low incomes can not claim for tax relief as they do no pay tax. They therfore pay 25% more for their medical expenses than do millionaires. I know as I was in this position.

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