The recent comments by the new Minister for Health Leo Varadkar T.D. that Medical Card approval on a medical basis was “unrealistic” and “very difficult” have been challenged by the Opposition spokesperson on health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D.
“Minister Varadkar has in his first week in office caused considerable distress for many individuals, families and service providers when he appears to rule out the recently adopted and oft quoted approach of his predecessor, and of Government, to Medical Card issuance policy.
“Following the debacle of the HSE and Government cull of discretionary Medical Cards it was announced that a medical need approach would be pursued with an expert group established and expected to report in September.
“His pre-emptive remarks require an explanation at the very least. The best we can expect is that he will acknowledge that need-based schemes have functioned satisfactorily heretofore even though they have not been accessible by all with serious illness. The Long Term Illness Card scheme is a case in point.
“Minister Varadkar must accept that all of these steps, including the piecemeal roll-out of so called Free GP access, are all steps towards the delivery of a system of Universal Healthcare for all on the basis of need and need alone. That has been a shared objective by Government and Opposition voices with differences presenting principally in how we fund and operate such a system and how quickly it can be put in place.
“The Minister should get back on track” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.