Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Ceisteanna (160)

Eoin Ryan

Ceist:

172 Mr. Eoin Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on changing the policy on medical card holders for the reason outlined in correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25584/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health)

Under Section 45 of the Health Act 1970 medical cards are provided for persons who, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive (HSE), are unable without undue hardship to arrange general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants. Section 58 of the Health Act, 1970, as amended, provides for GP visit cards for adult persons with limited eligibility for whom, in the opinion of the HSE, and notwithstanding that they do not qualify for a medical card, it would be unduly burdensome to arrange GP medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants.

The assessment of eligibility to medical cards is statutorily a matter for the HSE and is determined following an examination of the means and medical need of the applicant and his/her dependants.

In assessing eligibility income guidelines are used by the HSE. These guidelines are not statutorily binding and medical cards may be granted by the HSE to persons in circumstances where the income guidelines may be exceeded but the particular circumstances of the case warrant such a decision. Decisions to refuse an application or renewal of a medical card may, of course, be appealed to the Executive for further consideration.

Applicants whose sole income is derived from Department of Social and Family Affairs payments or HSE payments, which are below or in excess of the eligibility income guidelines will be granted a medical card. I have been informed by the HSE that under the existing medical card assessment guidelines in use in the HSE educational maintenance grants are not assessed as income for the purpose of determining eligibility for health services.

In support of Government policy in promoting employment, the retention of a medical card (without a means test) is approved for people as indicated below:

Employed people who are participants on the following Government Schemes will retain their entitlement to a medical card for the duration of the scheme.

Back to Work

Community Employment

Social Economy

When a person is participating on one of the following schemes for the long-term unemployed, their medical card will be retained for the duration of the scheme. The relevant schemes and retention periods are indicated below:

Retention Period

Revenue Job Assist

3 years

Community Employment

Variable

Social Economy Programme

3 years

Employment Support Schemes

1 year

Back to Education Allowance

Variable

VTOS

Variable