The General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme and the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) are separate schemes with separate qualifying criteria. Under the GMS Scheme, medical card holders are required to pay a €1.50 charge per item for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists, subject to a cap of €19.50 per month for each person or family. Prescription charges do not apply to children in the care of the HSE or to methadone supplied to patients participating in the Methadone Treatment Scheme.
Under the DPS, no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation. There is no provision for a family in the circumstances mentioned by the Deputy to claim a refund of the prescription charge from the DPS because, as advised from the outset, the GMS Scheme and the DPS are separate schemes with separate qualifying criteria.