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Sinn Féin to challenge Health Minister on medical cards

11 May, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Sinn Féin has published a motion for debate in the Dáil this coming week which will challenge Health Minister James Reilly and the Government on the cuts to discretionary medical cards.

Announcing the motion to be taken in the party’s Private Members time, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said: 

“There has been a continuing dramatic fall in the number of persons granted or retaining discretionary medical cards. The Minister for Health and the Government have failed to recognise the reality of this reduction and the hardship it is causing. 

“Last week there was a last-minute pre-election acknowledgement by the Minister for Health, prompted by a meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, that a problem exists. The Minister stated that he has asked Fine Gael TDs to give him a list of ‘hard cases’ and he floated the vague notion of a ‘third tier’ of services.  

“We are calling on the Government to reverse the cuts to discretionary medical cards imposed in the HSE 2014 Service Plan. They should ensure that the HSE treats with due respect and compassion all applicants for medical cards, taking fully into account not only incomes but the burdens imposed by medical conditions, illnesses and disabilities; 

“The Minister should consult with all Oireachtas members, not just his own party, on the effects of the cuts on citizens. 

“We are calling for the Government, in extending free GP care to all, to do so on a programmed, timetabled and transparent basis and in such a way that no-one entitled to a full medical card under the current rules will lose any of the services provided under the card in the context of a free-GP-care-for-all system.”

ENDS 

Dáil motion 

That Dáil Éireann 

Noting –

the continuing dramatic fall in the number of persons granted or retaining discretionary medical cards;

the persistent refusal of the Minister for Health and the Government to recognise the reality of this reduction and the hardship it is causing, despite numerous representations from the public, from representative groups and from Oireachtas members; 

the last-minute pre-election acknowledgement by the Minister for Health, prompted by a meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, that a problem exists;

the statement by the Minister that he has asked Fine Gael TDs to give him a list of ‘hard cases’;

the Minister’s floating of the vague notion of a ‘third tier’ of services; 

Calls on the Government to – 

Reverse the cuts to discretionary medical cards imposed in the HSE 2014 Service Plan; 

Ensure that the HSE treats with due respect, consideration and compassion all applicants for medical cards, taking fully into consideration not only incomes but the burdens imposed by medical conditions, illnesses and disabilities; 

Consult with all Oireachtas members, and not on a selective party political basis, on the effects of the cuts on citizens; 

Extend free GP care to all on a programmed, timetabled and transparent basis and in such a manner that, at the least, no-one entitled to a full medical card under the current rules will lose any of the services provided under the card in the context of a free-GP-care-for-all system;

Clearly set out in legislation entitlements to healthcare and in line with the recommendation of the Constitutional Convention, provide for an amendment to the Constitution to recognise the right to healthcare.

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