Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (579)

Willie Penrose


579. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if he will take steps to ensure that kidney transplant and dialysis patients can retain their medical cards as their illness is not considered long-term; if same will be addressed in the context of continuous medication, assessment and review being warranted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15270/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), there is no entitlement to a medical card based on having a particular disease or illness (nor has there been previously). The Deputy will also be aware that medical cards are provided to persons who, under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), are, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, unable without undue hardship to arrange GP services and other health services for themselves and their dependants. The assessment for a medical card is, therefore, determined primarily by reference to the means, including the income and expenditure, of the applicant and his or her partner and dependants.

If an applicant's means are above the financial thresholds as set out in the national guidelines, the HSE routinely examines for indications of medical or social circumstances which might result in undue financial hardship in arranging medical services and, exercising discretion, may grant eligibility for a medical card on this basis.

All medical card and GP visit card holders, irrespective of the basis on which the card was awarded, are subject to a periodic review of eligibility to determine continuing eligibility. Persons who have been granted a medical card under the financial hardship provisions of the medical card scheme are required, when the subject of a review assessment, to submit all relevant and up-to-date details. This is necessary so that the HSE can make a correct determination of continuing eligibility. Where an applicant indicates on a review application that medical evidence has been previously submitted relating to a life-long medical condition, and this has been confirmed by the HSE, the HSE will not request further medical evidence in this regard. The applicant will, however, be required to submit all other information material to a review assessment. There are no proposals to change these processes.