Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming is demanding a full explanation from the HSE after it emerged that up to €5m a year is being wasted on medical cards that are no longer in use.
Deputy Fleming raised the matter at this morning’s Public Accounts Committee meeting when the HSE Annual Report and Financial Statements 2012 was being laid before the Oireachtas.
Deputy Fleming commented afterwards, “In 2012 the HSE audited dormant medical cards to determine if card holders were still resident in Ireland. It found almost 15,000 (14,972 or 38% or cards examined) were inactive to the point where the HSE concluded it should no longer be paying for them. This is not the fault of the GPs but rather a management issue that the HSE is clearly failing on.
“Neither the HSE nor the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) have been able to quantify how much money has been wasted on dormant medical cards. This has been ongoing for a number of years and has still not been resolved. As the HSE is paying a varying annual capitation fee to GPs for these medical cards the HSE could be squandering in the order of €5m in this area alone while at the same time we see the Mobility Allowance cut, home help hours being cut and frontline services being withdrawn in communities.
“The C&AG confirmed to me at the Public Accounts Committee this morning that he is undertaking a further investigation and the PAC agreed, at my urging, to write directly to the HSE to seek a full report on the matter. The HSE must take immediate action to stop this ongoing waste of scarce taxpayers’ money.”
HSE Annual Report and Financial Statements 2012: Financial Governance, page 91, Note 35 –
“In 2012, for the first time, the HSE contacted individuals whose medical cards had been inactive for periods of 12 months and over for the purpose of confirming residence in the State. Where a reply could not be elicited after a number of letters, eligibility was removed. During 2012, 39,465 individuals whose medical cards had been inactive were contacted requesting residence confirmation. As at May 2013,
- 23,950 individuals (61%) had confirmed residence
- Eligibility was removed in relation to 14,972 cards (38%)
The HSE is following up on the remaining 543 cards and has not removed eligibility.”