Now that it seems certain that we are to have means testing for medical cards for the over 70s I thought I might suggest the following (which was in a round about way inspired by this post from Grannymar) to make the experience as simple and painless as possible. After all if we are to believe various reports, once we hit 70 we spontaneously loose all our faculties and become blubbering eejits wandering around terrified of anything that involves putting pen to paper.
So what can we do to spare our poor helpless pensioners from the government’s latest tool of oppression, the medical card means test form, soon to be released into the wild? There is an alternative and it is not just for the sake of the pensioners that we should be glad of it – Can our capital city withstand another attack by the Grey Panthers? The debris is still being cleared up from the storming of the Dail. The remains of improvised weapons made from zimmer frames, false teeth and knicker elastic litter our streets. St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row is being re-consecrated after the shocking behaviour of our senior citizens who had the audacity to use the Church for political ends! (Nobody has ever done that before – have they?)
This is the alternative: The two Brians will go on an all-Ireland tour where they will grab all our senior citizens by the ankles and turn them upside down and shake vigorously! Using a previously prepared formula, based on the contents of the pockets of each pensioner they will determine their eligibility for THE CARD. Any evidence of foreign travel (an unnecessary luxury), such as non-Irish Euro coins will mean instant disqualification. Any pensioner with one cent coins will also face disqualification, as the ability to pick these up off any surface known to humanity is indicative of a dexterity and fitness most gymnasts could only dream of! Pills will also mean no card – we certainly don’t want to give the card to druggies! Where tissues are found in a pensioners pocket a very dim view will be taken and unless evidence of a medical allergy to Lidyl’s budget 1 ply toilet roll can be produced this will usually result in refusal. Though this process will cause temporary discomfort and a rush of blood to the head it will be less stressful than the ordeal of filling out the proposed means test form. And like the proposed means test the ratio of 20:1 will be preserved, the only difference being that only one in twenty will qualify! Now isn’t that much better?
PS: On a more serious note:
PS: On a more serious note:
What the government did re the Medical Cards was monumentally clumsy and stupid! For a very small financial saving the government have lost all the political capital and credibility they had. However I think common sense would say that the universal medical card for 70+ should never have been introduced. It was a cynical ploy to buy an election and poor stewardship of the nations resources no matter how well off we thought we were! People are too angry at the moment to listen to reason and I think the Grey Panther march yesterday was about more than medical cards - I think it was more about a sector of the population who are increasingly invisible in our rapidly changing and disconnected society. However there are better ways of making them visible than giving free medical care to those who can easily afford it themselves. There is a lot of talk about rights, but our rights are of necessity affected and circumscribed by the rights of others who also deserve a piece of a shrinking economic pie. There is scandalous wastage in our welfare and health delivery systems and these need to be addressed but the reality is that if we give out free medical cards to the wealthy there will be less beds in our hospitals and less resources to help those who are really needy and marginalized. Taken to its extreme people who need resources will die if some of these resources are given to those who don’t need them. If we all got what we deserved we might have even more to complain about!
UPDATE: Check out the excellent editorial in the Irish Times (Saturday 25th October) which puts all of this in its proper context.