Minister for Health James Reilly has dismissed as “nonsense” a newspaper report suggesting a delay of around a year in providing free GP care on the Long-term Illness Scheme.

The report suggested there were legal difficulties in providing for care to around 56,000 people based on a medical condition and not on a means test.

The Government had committed to introducing the measure this year.

Mr Reilly said today that the legislation was complex and there had been some delay but the Bill would be published in the next Dáil term, and the issue was "still very much on track".

The cost of the measure is put at around €15m this year.

Talks have yet to take place with the Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish College of GPs on the measure.

Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said the government continues to backtrack on election promises.

In a statement, Mr Kelleher said he has no confidence that free GP care will be extended to "people with serious illness at all this year".

"In fact we now hear that most of the €15m set aside has been used to plug the HSE deficit presided over by Minister Reilly," he added.