Government approves method for the return of medical cards lost in discretionary review – DEERING.

17th June, 2014


Carlow Fine Gael TD, Pat Deering, has welcomed today’s announcement that the Government has approved the method by which medical cards awarded by way of discretion can be returned to persons with serious medical conditions who lost them having completed an eligibility review. The decision covers the period from the 1st of July 2011 till the 31st of May 2014.

At its meeting today the Cabinet has agreed a method which paves the way for the return of cards by the Health Service Executive which does not involve changing the law. Accordingly the return of such cards can be implemented within a matter of weeks through actions taken by the HSE.

“The Government has accepted that the review of the cards – which took place in the context of the centralisation of the medical card system – produced unintended consequences. There is evidence that some persons with an acute medical condition, or a lifelong condition (including a disability) have lost their medical cards, an outcome that the Government could not stand over.

“I was very vocal on this for a number of months because I saw at first hand the effect these decisions to withdraw medical cards were having on peoples lives, the stress of the whole process on top of the illness itself was a step too far for many people. I was critical of the Governments handling of this and I welcome today’s announcement and I acknowledge Minister Reilly’s and the HSE’s role in bringing the whole affair to a satisfactory conclusion – I under stand cards will be reinstated within a few weeks.

“In recent weeks the Government decided to take remedial action to sort this ongoing problem and also decided to formulate a new policy whereby eligibility for health services can take account of medical conditions, in addition to the existing basis of financial means. The HSE has already established an expert panel to advise on the broader issue by September. Today’s decision will see a prompt reinstatement of cards.

The Cabinet decisions have been made in the context of the move to introduce Universal Health Insurance and Universal Primary Care. The move to Universal Health Insurance will mean that everyone is covered for the health services that they need, and where community rating will ensure that premiums will be the same for everyone – regardless of how great their medical need is. Government will subsidise the cost of premiums on the basis of ability to pay.

A policy paper on Universal Primary Care will be completed by the Autumn. It will reflect the Government decision that it wants to provide access to appropriate health services on the basis of medical need, and has put in place the mechanisms required to provide the sound evidence base required to legislate for that.