More people will be eligible for free GP care and social welfare recipients, including those receiving Carer's Allowance, can look forward to a €5 increase per week, as part of Budget 2019.
The measures were announced by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe.
An additional €700 million has been allocated towards the health service this year by way of a supplementary estimate and in 2019, over €17 billion will be spent on healthcare. This will include a total of €150 million on disability services and €75 million on the National Treatment Purchase Fund, with the aim of bringing hospital waiting lists down.
An increase of €84 million will be spent on mental health next year, brining the total to €1 billion. This marks a 9% increase on 2018's figure.
A €25 increase in the income threshold for the GP visit card means that a further 100,000 people will now be eligible for the card.
The controversial prescription levy for medical card holders will be reduced by 50c, to €1.50 per item, for patients aged 70 and older. The threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme will be reduced by €10 per month to €124.
Smokers will have to fork out an extra 50c on a packet of cigarettes, but there will be no increase in the excise on alcohol.
Social welfare payments will increase by €5 per week from March 2019, and an additional two weeks of paid parental leave will be introduced in November 2019, with the aim of eventually extending this to seven weeks.
Minister Donohoe said that spending on healthcare is ‘already at record levels', but this remains ‘a key priority' for the Government.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.