Junior Health Minister Alex White (Labour) appeared on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning and was asked if he intended to push for a charge instead of the proposed universal free GP care.
Following the introduction of free GP visits for the under 6’s it is expected that Minister James Reilly will introduce universal free GP visits by 2016; asked several times whether he could rule out point-of-access charges as the scheme was extended to other age groups, White dodged the question repeatedly saying:
“Your listeners of course know that nothing is free. We all know that the health services have to be paid for.”
The Minister of State said he thought services should be free at the point of access, but pointed out that a
“very small access fee of a fiver does arise in Sweden and France and so on, but they are essentially free services”.
While White maintained that “very small charges of fiver or tenner” were common in other countries, Minister Reilly had ruled these out specifically saying that free care at the point of use meant “free — full stop”.
A tenner being ten per cent of an under 25’s dole €100 or the equivalent of about 8 minutes ‘work’ for the €130,042 per annum Junior Minister.
Listen to Morning Ireland over here.