I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 15 and 43 together.
The HSE National Service Plan for 2014 projects that there will be 1,875,707 medical cards for 2014. This projection is based on the HSE’s analysis of recent trends and the impact of budgetary decisions.
The medical card scheme is a demand led scheme. Persons who currently do not hold a medical card could become eligible due to a change in circumstances either on a means or a discretionary basis.
All medical card and GP visit card holders are subject to a periodic review to determine continuing eligibility. The HSE will conduct reviews of eligibility in a risk-assessed manner in relation to approximately one million medical card holders during 2014. It is challenging to project precisely the potential changes in numbers eligible as the granting and retention of a medical card or GP visit card is subject to individual assessment and review which can result in renewal, change or removal of eligibility.
As a consequence of the multiplicity and complexity of factors, it is not possible to estimate the number of medical cards that may be awarded on a discretionary basis.