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Changes to Medical Cards 'represent minor reform when a total overhaul is needed' - O Caoláin

26 November, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has voiced disappointment with the extent of reform of the medical card scheme announced yesterday, while giving a guarded welcome to some of its elements. Speaking after the announcement by Minister Varadkar, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Changing the way in which medical cards are provided represents minor reform when a total overhaul is needed. Make no mistake people on discretionary medical cards are still in danger of losing them. Universal Health Care should be the guiding principle, not deciding which one of two struggling families is more deserving. Primary or GP care free at the point of care for all should be the first step on the road to Universal Health Care.

“I welcome that those patients who are terminally ill will no longer have to go through a cruel yearly review process that caused great financial worry at a time of physical and emotional pain. GPs are to be given a certain amount of discretion to reinstate cards but unfortunately this is only for a period of four months.

“Minister Varadkar has decided that the financial means-test is the fairest way to assess eligibility. So many struggling families across the state do not reach these threshold levels, including families that have to debate if a child is sick enough to warrant a trip to the GP, families that decide which medication is more important on a given month and families that are unsure if they can afford to attend A and E.

“Minister Varadkar has also stated that ‘If everyone was entitled to health care, we wouldn’t have to do all this.” I agree and hopefully we will soon see a clearer road map from the Government on its proposed funding model and timescale.

 Deputy Ó Caoláin concluded;

“I note that an advisory group is to be established to develop guidance on assessing applications involving significant medical conditions. I ask how exactly this will work, when a short time ago we were told that cards could not be granted based on specific conditions?"

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