The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today, Tuesday 9 February, secured Government approval to expand access to medical cards, making them available to all those who are terminally ill and have a prognosis of up to 24 months.

Minister Donnelly said: “A terminal diagnosis is undoubtedly devastating. The provision of a medical card can provide much needed certainty and reassurance for individuals and their families during such a difficult time. Up to now, all those who have a prognosis of up to 12 months meet the ‘end of life’ criteria for eligibility for a medical cards.”

He continued: “This Government made a commitment in its Programme for Government to extend medical card eligibility in cases of terminal illness. As Minister for Health I am eager to deliver this change as quickly as possible. With Government approval secured today, I intend to direct the HSE to put in place arrangements to enable all those with a prognosis of up to 24 months to be eligible for a medical card.”

This new arrangement will confer a benefit to patients with diagnoses across a range of specialties such as:

  • Neurology
  • Cardiology
  • Respiratory
  • Oncology

Last November, the Clinical Advisory Group established by the HSE to examine this issue recommended legislative change to extend medical card eligibility in cases of terminal illness. The administrative scheme announced today will be in place for 12 months, pending the development of legislative options, which is currently being examined by the Department of Health.

Minister Donnelly said: “I am pleased that the introduction of an interim administrative arrangement will ensure eligible persons can access a medical card while the necessary legislative framework to underpin this arrangement continues to be developed. My Department will now work closely with the HSE with the aim of ensuring necessary processes and communications to operationalise the scheme are in place within weeks.”