Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has called on the Health Minister to intervene and ensure that cancer patients are automatically approved for a medical card. His comments come following a HSE review which stated that ‘it is neither feasible nor desirable to list medical conditions in priority order for Medical Card eligibility’, effectively denying cancer patients an automatic entitlement to a medical card.
Deputy Scanlon raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil this week.
“Up until recently cancer patients were awarded a discretionary medical card to help them cover the cost of doctor’s visits and treatment plans. However, there are serious delays in the application system and many patients are now finding it extremely difficult to get approval. I am dealing with a number of cases in my own offices, and these families are extremely distressed”, Deputy Scanlon explained.
“Despite the HSE referring people to the online system, amid claims that it is more efficient, the families that I am assisting are still waiting to hear back, weeks after their applications have been submitted. This is an unnecessary complication that these families should not be put through and I am calling on Minister Harris to address it.
“I am baffled by the fact that there appears to be no political will on the part of the Minister or the government to extend the medical card to cancer patients.
“As it stands, medical cards are automatically awarded to children and adolescents under the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with cancer, and there was a genuine expectation that this would be extended to all cancer patients following the HSE review. However, the recommendations failed to go that far, leaving cancer patients in the lurch.
“I am urging Minister Harris to show some common sense and compassion and to ensure that cancer sufferers have one less thing to worry about, knowing that their care and treatment costs will be covered by the medical card”.