Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said the Government needs to stop the widespread withdrawal of discretionary medical cards which is causing huge anxiety, grief and concern throughout the country.
Deputy Martin has said there is a “persistent underhand campaign to reduce the number of discretionary medical cards.”
“The Government needs to honest with people. There is a complete disconnect between the rhetoric being used by the Taoiseach and the reality facing people in serious need. A discretionary medical card is for people who are over the income limit but have a chronic long-term illness necessitating high medication costs and visits to doctors. The reality is the criteria for qualifying for a discretionary medical card has tightened, people are having their medical cards refused and this is causing huge anxiety. In recent years there has been a cut of 21,000 in discretionary medical cards.
“The Minister for Health needs to make a clear statement on this issue. It is being raised at the Health Committee tomorrow with Minister Reilly and the HSE. My office has been inundated with people whose medical cards have been revoked when there is a clear and undeniable medical need.
“The Minister added to the concerns of the public with his casual attitude to discretionary medical cards for cancer patients when he told the Health Committee on July 10th that cancer could be “not such a bad diagnosis at all”. Minister Reilly needs to get real. He has caused great anxiety among older people and people with very serious illnesses.
The Government needs to take two steps immediately:
- Reverse the policy of not facilitating people with cancer with discretionary medical cards
- Stop the policy of reducing the number of discretionary medical cards held by people with long-term chronic illnesses
“The Minister’s spokesperson has even claimed James Reilly never said that he initiated any change in relation to medical card in cases of non-terminal cancer. It’s this level of dishonestly that is exacerbating the problem. Minister Reilly needs to acknowledge that there is a deliberate attempt to restrict and withdraw medical cards in order to save money. This is totally self-defeating for the health service and a despicable policy to pursue and it must be stopped.”