Medical Card Applications

Questions (194)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

194. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; the reason for the delay in having a final decision made on this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23770/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (195)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

195. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 42% of those with multiple sclerosis have had their medical cards withdrawn and half of those with the illness have been refused a medical card; the support that is available for patients with MS to assist them with the costs of managing the disease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23772/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the current provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means. The Act provides that persons, who are unable to arrange GP services for themselves and family without undue hardship, having regard to their overall financial situation, can qualify for a medical card. The HSE can only award medical cards in accordance with the Health Act and, therefore, it must assess the means and reasonable expenditure of the applicant, and his or her spouse or partner. On this basis, statistical data relating to the condition or illness of applicants is not collated under the Medical Card Scheme.

The HSE provides a range of health and personal supports to people with disabilities, including those with Multiple Sclerosis, which incorporate hospital, primary care and community services. Community services and supports for people with disabilities, including those with Multiple Sclerosis, are provided in a variety of community and residential settings in partnership with service users, their families and carers and are provided directly by the HSE or through a range of voluntary service providers.

People with Multiple Sclerosis can benefit from therapy services including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy as well as a range of medical interventions. The HSE provides assisted living services, including Personal Assistant services, to support individuals to maximise their capacity to live full and independent lives. People with Multiple Sclerosis may also be eligible for medical / surgical aids & appliances that facilitate and/or maintain mobility and/or functional independence.

MS Ireland receives annual funding from the HSE under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004 towards the provision of a range of services at local and national level to those newly diagnosed, carers, children of parents with Multiple Sclerosis and health professionals. Programmes include physical therapies, symptom management, information / education seminars and a confidential helpline. In 2013, MS Ireland received funding of €2.56 million from the HSE.

The Government is very aware of the public concern in relation to the issue of medical cards. The Cabinet Committee on Health met last week and decided to develop the policy framework governing eligibility in a manner that will also take account of medical conditions in light of its decision. The process will include the development of a new legislative framework, as necessary. The HSE will establish an expert panel to examine the range of conditions that should be brought into consideration. The Department of Health has also been mandated to develop a policy paper on the further roll-out of GP care free at the point of access in the context of the move to universal health insurance.

The Minister for Health will present a Memorandum to Government setting out the next steps.

Nursing Home Services

Questions (196)

Ann Phelan

Question:

196. Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Health based on the population projections by the centre for aging research and development confirming ESRI projections on major growth in the number of persons needing nursing home care, if he will ensure that a meaningful forum on long-term residential care, co-ordinated and led by his Department, will be established to discuss and plan the future of long-term residential care and the broader care requirements of our ageing society, bringing together all of the relevant stakeholders and including the NHI, State bodies, including his Department, the Health Service Executive, the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the Health Information and Quality Authority and representatives of older people, with clear terms of reference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23775/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 674 of 28 May 2013. The position remains unchanged.

Home Care Packages

Questions (197)

Gerry Adams

Question:

197. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the number of persons in counties Louth and Meath in receipt of home care packages; the percentage of the Health Service Executive funded home care packages provided by private companies; if he will provide a breakdown of expenditure on home care packages for 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23817/14]

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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.

Home Care Packages

Questions (198)

Gerry Adams

Question:

198. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the approved providers for home care packages in counties Louth and Meath; the way these providers are selected; the way home care services are regulated; if he will address the need for stricter regulations, standards and auditing of home help services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23818/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Government for National Recovery, 2011-2016 commits to developing and implementing national standards for home support services, which will be subject to HIQA inspection. Primary legislation and resources will be required for the introduction of a statutory regulation system for home care services. This is being considered in the wider context of the licensing of Public and Private Health Service Providers.

I would like to emphasise, however that statutory regulation or licensing is only one way of improving quality and safety and the HSE is already progressing a range of measures to improve Home Care provision overall, to standardise services nationally and to promote quality, and safety. These include a Procurement Framework for Home Care Services with quality and screening requirements which came into effect in 2012 and applies to services procured by the HSE from external providers. The HSE is currently undertaking a review of home care services with a view to improving services generally.

In relation to the particular queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Home Care Packages

Questions (199)

Gerry Adams

Question:

199. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health if he will clarify whether recent changes have taken place with regard to home care package service providers in Drogheda, County Louth; the reason service providers have been changed; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the change in service providers has left those who depend on these services feeling vulnerable, confused and distraught owing to a lack of communication from the Health Service Executive regarding such changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23819/14]

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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.

Hospital Appointment Delays

Questions (200)

Jack Wall

Question:

200. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health further to previous parliamentary questions, when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment date for a procedure at Tallaght General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23833/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I understand that the Health Service Executive wrote to the Deputy on 20th March outlining the position on this matter. I have sent the Deputy's further question to them, asking for them to respond directly to him.

General Medical Services Scheme Administration

Questions (201)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

201. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a detailed outline of the services that a person is entitled to when in receipt of a full medical card and general practitioner only card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23838/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Persons with full eligibility (medical card holders) are entitled to a range of services including general practitioner services, prescribed drugs and medicines, all in-patient public hospital services in public wards including consultant services, all out-patient public hospital services including consultant services, dental, ophthalmic and aural services and appliances and maternity and infant care services. They are also entitled to prescribed drugs and medicines subject to a €2.50 charge per prescribed item (maximum charge of €25.00 per month). Other services such as allied health professional services may be available to medical card holders.

In addition, medical card holders pay the Universal Social Charge on their income (except for social welfare and HSE payments) at a maximum rate of 4%. The only exemption is for people earning less than €10,036 per annum. Medical card holders may also be exempt from paying school transport charges and State exam fees in publicly-funded second-level schools. There may also be financial help with buying school books in certain schools.

A GP Visit Card allows access to a GP without charges at the point of use. Blood tests to diagnose or monitor a condition are covered but not any prescribed drugs associated with a GP visit.