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Government policy on medical cards disgraceful - Adams

14 May, 2014 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking tonight during Sinn Fein’s Private Members’ Motion on Discretionary Medical Cards, has accused the government of pursuing a policy on medical cards that is “unjustifiable, it’s indefensible and it needs to stop.”

He said:

“At the root of this scandal is the willingness of this Government and the Minister for Health to allow seriously ill and vulnerable citizens to be targeted in a money saving exercise.  Access to medical card cover is still subject to a means test as opposed to being provided on foot of a particular medical condition. That is wrong. That needs to change and it needs to change urgently.”

The Louth TD also told the Dáil of examples from his own constituency of citizens who are being denied medical cards essential to their health and well being.

For example, “Lily Redmond from Grangerath in Drogheda, who is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and has food aversions and has to attend a range of specialists and therapists. Lily’s parents only discovered her Medical card was withdrawn following a GP visit. They were told they are over the financial  limit.”

The Full Text of Gerry Adams remarks:

“Minister, this week parents of seriously ill children launched a new statewide campaign – ‘Our Children’s Health’ - to protect their medical cards.

“In response the government’s newly appointed Children's Minister Charlie Flanagan said he ‘hopes that everybody who needs a medical card in this country would have one.’

“Well, I have news for Teachta Flanagan. Firstly everybody who needs a medical card does not have one. Secondly this type of a response to a crisis causing serious distress to so many citizens is pathetic and unacceptable.

“The Government, from the Taoiseach down, is seeking to deny its role in creating this crisis. But the reality is there for all to see.

“It has been brought to your attention time out of number by opposition parties here in the Dáil. It has also been brought to your attention by patient advocates and various representative groups.

“And I have no doubt that representatives of the Fine Gael and Labour parties have been confronted with this issue on the doorsteps during the course of the current election campaigns.

“And, in case you are in any doubt Minister, the HSE’s National Director of Primary Care, John Hennessy has acknowledged the reality. He says the removal of discretionary medical cards from some patients has been ‘indefensible’.

“Mr. Hennesy also says the removal of medical cards is causing ‘unnecessary levels of anxiety and frustration for families, particularly families dealing with serious disability’.

“Minister, at the root of this scandal is the willingness of this Government and the Minister for Health to allow seriously ill and vulnerable citizens to be targeted in a money saving exercise.

“Access to medical card cover is still subject to a means test as opposed to being provided on foot of a particular medical condition. That is wrong. That needs to change and it needs to change urgently.

“Mr. Hennesssy has argued that the renewal process in certain cases involving profound disability requires a far more integrated process in a way that ensures all entitlements and health service supports, particularly non means-tested services such as supplies of medicines, equipment and other support services are maximised.

“Minister, as we debate this issue, there are families dealing with serious illness and disabilities in their homes and their burden is being unnecessarily added to by the decisions that the Government and the Minister for Health has made to go after their medical cards.

“Mary O’Kane from Laytown, is 86-years-of-age and living alone. Her Medical Card was recently withdrawn and replaced by GP-only card by the HSE following self-assessment.

“I believe self-assessment is leading to a situation where elderly people such as Mary are ticking the incorrect income boxes on their forms, and that this is leading to a withdrawal of cards.

“Lily Redmond from Grangerath in Drogheda, diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome has food aversions and has to attend a range of specialists and therapists.

“Lily’s parents only discovered her Medical card was withdrawn following a GP visit. They were told they are over the financial  limit.

“Pamela Donnelly from Julianstown, has sleep apnoea, requiring the use of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

“Pamela is under GP and hospital care. Her full Medical Card was withdrawn following a review citing income in excess of guidelines.

“But a GP card does not cover cost of CPAP machine (approx. €111 per month) and as a result, Pamela has no machine as of January 2014.

“David O’Neill from Bettystown, has cancer. He has undergone surgery and chemotherapy and is still attending hospital for follow up. David requires a colostomy bag daily.

“His Medical Card was withdrawn and replaced by a GP-only card because he exceeded the income limit by €280. But David cannot afford to provide colostomy bags.

“Minister, these families and thousands more like them across this state, feel isolated, afraid and confused by the process you are forcing them to submit to.

“Minister, it’s not fair, it’s unjustifiable, it’s indefensible and it needs to stop.”

ENDS

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