Biffo blinked.

As I write, I’m watching live coverage of the Taoiseach’s press conference to announce the government is backing down from the decision to remove free medical cards from all citizens over the age of seventy.

By increasing the income limit for a medical card to €700, the government has ensured that all but the top five percent of senior citizens will retain their medical cards.

Minister for health Mary Harney is sitting – perhaps appropriately – to the right of the Taoiseach.

Meanwhile, John Gormley is sitting to the left of Brian Cowen, doing his best to explain why Jackie Healy Rae did a better job of defending the rights of pensioners than his party managed.

In addition, the Taoiseach will exempt the Irish Medical Organisation from the Competition Act.

There are also reports that the government will back down on the one percent income levy, removing the lower paid from the net.

Under the new regime, those who earn more that €700 are expected to ‘notify the HSE’.

Stroke politics kicked in immediately, with nods and winks hinting that that citizens earning more can hold on to their medical cards, simply by not reporting themselves.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.