Prescription charges should not go ahead – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has made a last-minute call on the Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney not to proceed with the imposition of prescription charges for medical card holders which are due to come in this Friday 1st October. He described the charges as “a tax on illness” and a “bureaucratic nightmare” and said that the HSE has still not fully worked out how people would be refunded if they pay over the €10 monthly maximum in charges.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The prescription charges for medical card holders which are due to be imposed from this Friday 1st October are a tax on illness. As well as being an unfair imposition on those who can least afford them, the charges are set to cause confusion as the HSE has not fully worked out how people will be refunded if they pay over the €10 monthly maximum in charges.
“A HSE/Dept. of Health & Children leaflet for distribution to medical card holders says that people charged over €10 per month have to apply to the HSE for a refund.
“However, a HSE circular and Q&A to pharmacists (Circular No. 020/10) says that the HSE ‘will issue refunds automatically on a quarterly basis’.
“An added complication is that the €10 per month maximum applies to families as well as individuals, which means that pharmacists have to identify family members so that the monthly charges to a family in excess of €10 can be refunded. The HSE is asking people to register on-line as a family group, print off a certificate and present this to the pharmacist.
“Minister Harney has created another costly bureaucratic nightmare for patients, pharmacists and the HSE, all as a so-called cost-saving measure. The Minister should revoke her ministerial order imposing the charges.” ENDS