Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

300 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children if people suffering from multiple sclerosis are entitled to medical cards; his views on whether this is a serious long-term illness causing extreme and extraordinary hardship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7387/01]

The long-term illness scheme entitles persons to free drugs and medicines which are prescribed in respect of a specific schedule of illnesses. The Deputy will be pleased to learn that multiple sclerosis is included in the list of illnesses covered by the scheme.

People who are unable without undue hardship to arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is solely a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board to decide. In determining eligibility for a medical card, the chief executive officer has regard to the financial circumstances of the applicant.
Income guidelines are used by health boards to assist in determining a person's eligibility. However, even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, the person may still be awarded a medical card if the chief executive officer considers that the person's medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. Medical cards may also be issued to individual family members on this basis.
I am satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place to meet the needs of persons with multiple sclerosis and others with ongoing medical expenses.