Government that promises free GP care for all restricts medical cards for cancer patients – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the further restrictions on the availability of the medical card, including to cancer patients, is causing real hardship for those who have lost cards and real concern for those who fear they may lose theirs.
He has called on Minister James Reilly to instruct medical card application assessors to employ “appropriate discretion and compassion.”
Speaking today Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“There is widespread distress and concern at the further restrictions on medical card entitlement being imposed by the HSE with the approval of Health Minister James Reilly. Of special concern is the fact that discretionary medical cards are being discontinued for many patients with cancer, including children. The loss of these medical cards is causing real distress and the prospect of their loss is now a huge worry for many people.
“Health Minister James Reilly, questioned on this issue by me at the Dáil Health Committee this week, admitted that discretionary cards are no longer being granted to cancer patients in the same way as previously. The irony is that this Government is promising to extend free GP care to all while at the same time cutting medical cards for some of those who need them most.
“Medical card assessments need to be carried out with appropriate discretion and compassion and not simply on the basis of the very low income threshold. This is clearly a requirement where applicants have life-limiting conditions, including cancer.
“Laverne McGuinness of the HSE has today claimed that there has been no change in criteria for discretionary medical cards but she has also admitted that the number of people on discretionary medical cards has indeed decreased.
“This government needs to make clear if it has abandoned its promise to provide free GP care for all.”