Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher says the Taoiseach has serious questions to answer following the publication of correspondence between the HSE boss and Department of Health which reveal plans to withdraw 225,000 medical cards. It’s been revealed that the cull was devised as part of an overall plan to reduce health spending in the 2014 Budget.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “The revelations contained in today’s Sunday Independent are extremely worrying. Despite numerous warnings from the head of the HSE about the scale of the cuts proposed, and their impact on patient care and safety, the then Minister for Health James Reilly and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in his role as chair of the Cabinet Sub Committee on Health, approved them.
“What is more concerning is the fact that it appears that the Taoiseach deliberately misled the public about the removal of medical cards from people with serious illnesses and disabilities. Fianna Fáil consistently raised this issue in the Dáil and the Seanad over the past two years and the Taoiseach, along with senior Cabinet Ministers, denied that any policy to cut medical cards existed. Now it’s emerged that a target to remove 225,000 cards was contained in the HSE’s final service plan for 2014, something the Taoiseach must have been aware of.
“While the Taoiseach was busy covering up and refuting planned medical card culls, his deputy leader and former Health Minister James Reilly was re-writing the HSE service plan, specifically requesting that certain bullet points, paragraphs and tables be amended to appear more palatable and to suit the Government’s political agenda. This is a clear manipulation of the system and is completely unacceptable. Did the Taoiseach know about this interference and did he condone it?
“The publication of this correspondence raises serious credibility issues for the Taoiseach. He needs to explain why he chose to ignore the serious concerns raised by the head of the HSE on numerous occasions, why he denied a planned cull on medical cards when it was contained in the HSE service plan, and why then Minister James Reilly was trying to interfere with information contained in that document. These are all extremely worrying insights into the operation of the Department of Health and its relationship with the HSE and it is imperative that the Taoiseach brings some clarity to these matters”.