Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal North East Charlie McConalogue has called on the Health Minister to ensure that the HSE refunds money owed to people with Long Term Illness cards as soon as possible. Thousands of people are due a rebate after they were mistakenly charged for their prescriptions, and despite assurances that the money would be repaid, many people still have not had the rebate returned to them.
Deputy McConalogue explained, “There are a dozens of people across Donegal who were wrongly charged for their prescriptions, many of whom require a variety of medications to treat their illness. Former Health Minister James Reilly presided over an increase in prescription charges, from 50c to €2.50 per item, placing a substantial financial burden on these people and their families. People who paid the maximum fees every month will be due a refund of almost €100, however many people have still not received their rebates.
“It took the HSE years to recognise that a mistake had been made and this year, they finally admitted that repayments should be issued to all affected. Following representations I made on behalf of a number of constituents, the HSE confirmed that the money would be issued by the end of October.
“However, none of the people who contacted me have had their refunds issued to date, and the HSE is now stating that the repayments will be made “in due course”. This is a clear stalling tactic and is completely unacceptable. These people, some of whom have seriously debilitating conditions like cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis, have already been put under unnecessary financial pressure, and now their refunds are being needlessly withheld.
“It is unfair to expect these families, who have campaigned for years to have their payments reimbursed, to wait even longer for money which should never have been taken from them in the first instance. Minister Varadkar needs to take a hands-on approach and ensure repayments are issued as soon as possible”.