Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (670, 719)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

670. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he will allow polio sufferers to be assessed for a medical card based on medical need only; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9802/13]

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Eoghan Murphy

Question:

719. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Health his plans to allow Polio survivors to qualify for a medical card automatically and if he is considering categorising Polio as an illness under the long term illness scheme. [10243/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 670 and 719 together.

Medical cards are not awarded to any particular group of patients on the basis of a specific medical condition.

Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970, eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means. There are currently two categories of eligibility for all persons ordinarily resident in Ireland i.e. full eligibility (medical card) and limited eligibility (all others). Full eligibility is determined mainly by reference to income limits and is granted to persons who, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, are unable to provide general practitioner, medical and surgical services to themselves and their dependents without undue hardship. There is no automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons with any specific illness. There is a provision for discretion to grant a card in cases of "undue hardship" where the income guidelines are exceeded. The HSE set up a clinical panel to assist in the processing of applications for discretionary medical cards where there are difficult personal circumstances.

There is an emergency process for a person who is terminally ill, or in urgent need of medical attention and cannot afford to pay for it, that provides a card within 24 hours while the normal application process is completed. Once a letter from the patient's GP or consultant is received stating that the person is terminally ill and the required personal details are provided, an emergency card is issued to that person for a six-month period. There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme.