Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Questions (654)

Pat Deering

Question:

654. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Health if he will consider introducing a third tier of medical card to deal specifically with medical condition rather than means. [21536/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

HSE data shows that the number of medical cards issued, where discretion was involved has fallen in recent years. However, this is not as a result of a change in policy or a deliberate targeting of discretionary cards. Rather, it is attributable, in the main, to the fact that many people, who previously were marginally over the qualifying means thresholds, have subsequently been granted medical cards because they fall under those means thresholds. Of the discretionary cards in circulation in 2011, less than one-tenth have subsequently been found to be ineligible for a medical card on review.

At the request of Minister Reilly, the HSE is currently examining how individuals, who are not entitled to a medical card, could still receive services that meet their needs. This issue is being addressed in a manner that includes all of the services and supports provided by the HSE with as much flexibility as is available and at a local level. It is intended that improved published information and local information points will be established at major health centres around the country, where members of the public can obtain comprehensive information and support in accessing their full range of supports and entitlements from the Health Services. The objective is to maximise the supports available for patients and families.

My clear intention is to maximise the supports that can be provided in each case and to ensure that entitlements are maximised to the fullest extent possible. The HSE is seeking to find the best way to achieve this in order to ensure families will receive the support they need.