In recent months, thousands of people have received letters from the HSE initiating reviews of their medical card entitlements and, in many instances, removing their medical cards. This has caused huge anxiety, grief and concern throughout the country. Many of these people are elderly and in receipt of medical cards. Nowhere is this more cruelly felt than in the persistent underhand campaign to reduce the number of discretionary medical cards. In essence, 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.
I will give the Taoiseach an example. Yesterday, a 68 year old gentleman called to see me. He had received such a letter taking the card off him. The card's expiry date was 2021. This person has a very complex medical history with multiple issues necessitating high medication and so on. He has been out of work since 1985 because of his medical condition but the card was taken off him, which shows the campaign that is under way.
The grief and concern felt by people was added to by the Minister for Health last week when he confirmed that cancer patients are no longer entitled to a discretionary medical card unless they are terminally ill. I read a response to the Minister in a blog from a cancer survivor yesterday.