Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher says thousands of families are struggling to meet medical costs after having their medical cards taken away from them.  New HSE figures reveal that more 87,000 people have had their medical card removed over the course of the past 12 months leaving them liable for all their medical expenses.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “The removal of these medical cards will heap the pressure on thousands of families across the country who will now be facing increased medical bills.  They’ll be forced to pay for GP visits, prescription medicines and hospital stays – costs which would have previously been covered by their medical card.

“More than 22,000 cards were taken from the over 70s.  This is more evidence of this Government’s continued attack on some of the most vulnerable in our society.  Not content with cutting or removing other key benefits like the household benefits package and the telephone allowance, the Government has now targeted healthcare.

“The increase in the number of discretionary cards granted over the past 12 months is further proof of the flawed policy which was adopted by former Health Minister James Reilly as part of a cost cutting plan.  Between March 2011 and March 2014 the Government cut more than 30,000 medical cards, removing them from people with life limiting and debilitating conditions.  Thousands of people were put through months, and in some cases years, of distress and anxiety after  the Government pushed forward with their plan to remove medical cards from some of those who need them the most”.