Question No. 264 answered with Question No. 262.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Issues

Questions (265)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

265. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 677 of 2 July 2013, and in view of the recent announcement of cost saving measures (details supplied) removing the 20% retail mark up for pharmacists, if a person who has both a medical card and a long term illness card will now be able to avail of long term illness prescriptions free of charge; the date on which these new measures come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35765/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Persons suffering from prescribed conditions, who are not already medical card holders, can get free drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the treatment of that condition under the Long Term Illness Scheme. Medical card holders are required to pay prescription charges. Prescription charges are not payable in respect of items supplied under the Long Term Illness Scheme. In the case of persons who have both the medical card and LTI, the HSE policy is that they should use their medical card to access medicines. The main reason for this is that the supply of medicines under the LTI costs the HSE considerably more than under the GMS Scheme. A retail mark-up of 20% is payable to pharmacists for items supplied under the LTI Scheme. However, following a review of the rates of fees payable to health professionals (under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009) my colleague, Minister Reilly, announced (on the 2nd of July) the elimination of the retail mark-up. Regulations are being prepared to give effect to this decision. There is no retail mark-up for items supplied under the GMS Scheme. The decision by the previous Government not to extend prescription charges to the Long Term Illness Scheme gave rise to the anomaly identified by the Deputy. This matter is under review.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications

Questions (266)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

266. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health when a determination will be made on an application for a special chair in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35809/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE is responsible for the administration of the primary care schemes, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (267, 272)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

267. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health the projected annual saving to the Exchequer following his decision to withdraw the automatic entitlement to a medical card for patients undergoing treatment for cancer. [35812/13]

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Róisín Shortall

Question:

272. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the changes that have been made to the criteria applying the way discretionary medical cards are awarded in the cases of persons with cancer. [35821/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 and 272 together.

Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970, the assessment for a medical card is determined primarily by reference to the means, including the income and expenditure, of the applicant and his or her partner and dependants. There is no automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons with a specific illness, such as cancer, nor has the criteria applied to medical card applications by cancer patients been amended or reviewed.

However, under the legislation, there is provision for discretion by the HSE to grant a medical card where a person's income exceeds the income guidelines. The HSE takes a person's social and medical issues into account in determining whether or not "undue hardship" exists for a person in providing a health service for themselves or his or her dependents. The HSE has an effective system in place for the provision of emergency medical cards for patients who are terminally ill, or who are seriously ill and in urgent need of medical care that they cannot afford. They are issued within twenty-four hours of receipt of the required patient details and the letter of confirmation of the condition from a doctor or a medical consultant. With the exception of terminally ill patients, the HSE issues all emergency cards on the basis that the patient is eligible for a medical card on the basis of means or undue hardship, and that the applicant will follow up with a full application within a number of weeks of receiving the emergency card. As a result, emergency medical cards are issued to a named individual, with a limited eligibility period of six months.

For persons with a terminal illness, no means test applies. Once the terminal illness is verified, patients are given an emergency medical card for six months. Given the nature and urgency of the issue, the HSE has appropriate escalation routes to ensure that the person gets the card as quickly as possible.

Medical Aids and Appliances Issues

Questions (268)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

268. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 665 of 2 July 2013 regarding the Health Service Executive management team that established a national control group to oversee the introduction of universal ownership for the reuse of foldable walkers, walking sticks and crutches from previous patients are made available for new patients, with sterilisation to ensure that their reuse is to the proper standard; the communications plan that will be put in place to ensure all persons working in the health care sector here are made aware of this initiative; if this scheme will cover general practitioners, accident and emergency departments and HSE offices throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35813/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE is responsible for the administration of the primary care schemes, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage

Questions (269)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

269. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health his plans to include an illness (details supplied) on the long term illness scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35814/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness scheme. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, 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 GP consultations.

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (270)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

270. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite an operation to remove cataracts in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35819/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2013, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists. In relation to this particular query raised by the Deputy, I have asked the Health Service Executive to investigate the situation and respond directly to the Deputy in this matter.

Home Help Service Provision

Question No. 272 answered with Question 267.

Questions (271)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

271. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health if he will review the home help hours provided to a person (details supplied) in County Cork [35820/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Question No. 272 answered with Question 267.