Leo Varadkar delays plan for free GP care to children under 12 in today's Budget
HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar has called off plans to extend free GP care for all children under 12 in today's Budget.
Mr Varadkar considered extending the hugely-popular scheme ahead of the election, but decided against the move after tense negotiations with doctors over this year's introduction of free GP care for under sixes.
The roll-out of the under-sixes scheme was delayed by more than a year due to a stalemate in talks between Department of Health officials and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).
The scheme costs around €67m to run - more than 80pc higher than the estimated cost.
However, it is understood there are still plans to increase the number of children who can avail of free GP care in the "next year or two" if the Coalition is voted back into government.
Free GP care for the over 70s was also introduced this year for almost 36,000 people.