Galway East Fianna Fáil Michael Kitt has said the ongoing delays in issuing medical cards is having a devastating impact on thousands of families and patients in the West.
Deputy Kitt said: “I have been contacted by many medical card holders in Co Galway who are now being forced to bear high costs after their cards lapsed or were withdrawn. The fact that these people don’t know when their cards will be renewed is totally unacceptable. In the meantime, those with chronic illnesses are left unable to pay their medical bills after the HSE essentially pulled the rug from under them.
“There is a real fear now among health professionals and the public that this is part of an underhand exercise to cut costs. GPs believe hundreds of medical card holders are being stripped of their cards because of a review, and that patients will be unable to recoup costs incurred during these delays.
“People want to know if this is in fact a cynical effort to rein in costs, similar to the initiative targeting pensioners for extra taxes. If so, it is a step too far in the Government’s policy of targeting the vulnerable groups for extreme cuts. Medical cards should not be removed from seriously ill patients pending a review of their eligibility. If people are found to no longer be eligible for a medical card it is only then that action should be taken, not before the review has taken place.
“I am calling on the Health Minister James Reilly to urgently look at a bridging mechanism for patients with serious and chronic illnesses whose medical cards have lapsed and new applications are being processed. There are significant delays being experienced by people in need of a medical card and I think it is only right that this issue should be addressed immediately.”