The Government plans to announce free GP care for under-fives later this year as part of a radical recasting of its central health policy.
Months after the abandonment of an election pledge to first extend free medical cover to people with long-term illnesses, Minister for Health James Reilly will unveil a remodelled strategy proposing the phased introduction of free GP care for all according to age group.
Dr Reilly is still promising the policy can be introduced within the lifetime of the administration, as pledged in the programme for Government, even though no progress has been made so far. The plan, designed to take the Government parties to the next election, will see the announcement of free GP care for under-fives after the summer and a pledge to extend this benefit to other age groups over the following two years.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White is working on the detail of the proposals. There is no indication yet where the €400m-450 million a year required to fund free GP care for all will come from.