Withdrawing the medical card from the elderly would have huge health implications, a professor specialising in their care has warned.
Prof Des O'Neill says he has scientific research to show that the granting of the cards to the over-70s had reduced the number of strokes and heart attacks and the number of older people on hospital trollies.
It was one of the "most effective" measures ever taken for this age group and its withdrawal in the Budget had "caused a huge wave of concern not only among patients but among professionals".
Prof O'Neill, a consultant geriatrician at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin added that "for a sum somewhat less than the children's allowance we have a service which has made huge improvements in primary health care for older people".
Older people were the ones who suffered from chronic disease and "what we want is them going to their GP early". Offering them a grant of €400 a year would mean they would save this money until they were really sick instead of using it early to prevent their illness becoming worse.
Granting the medical card to the over-70s had meant a huge increase in the numbers getting medical care, flu jabs and having their blood pressure monitored, he said.