It is clear from cases presenting to public representatives across the country that a wide-scale cull of discretionary medical cards is underway, according to Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher.

The Government continues to mislead the public and deny that any such cuts are taking place.

Deputy Kelleher commented: “When discretionary medical cards are issued it is done so on health grounds, it is based on medical need.  But we have a situation under this government where thousands of cards are being withdrawn on the grounds that recipients are above the income threshold.  But the whole basis of discretionary medical cards is that patients are assessed on the seriousness of their illnesses and not on income.

“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Health have both repeatedly claimed that there has been no change in policy and no change in medical card guidelines.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You only have to meet the people I have met in my constituency and colleagues have told me of cases that have seen at first hand – there is a wide-scale programme of cuts hitting very sick children and vulnerable families under enormous pressure.

“The number of discretionary medical cards is down over by 20,000 since 2010.  Has there been some unannounced medical miracle?  The Minister for Health needs to explain why he is driving these cuts and denying any change in policy.

“What is happening here is that Minister Reilly is hitting discretionary medical card patients to help cover the gaping holes in the health budget.  In the most cynical manner he is expecting people with very serious illnesses to pay for his mistakes. This is causing severe hardship to thousands of very sick people across the country.”