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Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 27 May 2009

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Ceisteanna (110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

141 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the criteria required for an illness to be added to the long-term illness scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21768/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

142 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the changes she has made to the long term illness scheme since its introduction; the changes she plans to make to it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21769/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

143 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on adding vasculitis and Wegener’s granulomatosis to the qualifying illnesses under the long term illness scheme; the reason it has not been added; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21770/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

144 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who have been in receipt of a long term illness book for each of the years from 2003 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21771/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

145 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has reviewed the long term illness scheme during her time in office; and the result of this review. [21772/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

146 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason rheumatoid arthritis is not a qualifying illness under the long term illness scheme; if she will add it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21773/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

147 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are people suffering from long term illnesses which are not qualifying illnesses under the long term illness scheme and who do not qualify for a medical card or general practitioner visit card; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that some of those people cannot arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves without undue hardship and that the €100 monthly payment under the drugs payment scheme is too much for people suffering financial hardship to pay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21774/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

148 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if members of her Department or the Health Service Executive have met with representatives from the Department of Finance or other relevant Departments to discuss making changes to the long term illness scheme; the result of these discussions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21775/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

149 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason mental illness is a qualifying illness under the long term illness scheme for people under 16 years of age only; her views on extending same to children over 16 and adults over 18 years of age; if she will extend the scheme to all people regardless of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21776/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 to 149, inclusive, together.

The Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI) arose from a non statutory scheme, established in 1967, to supply free of charge certain products to persons for the treatment of diabetes. A statutory scheme was introduced in 1971 under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970. It provides that a health board (now the HSE) may make arrangements for the supply without charge of drugs, medicines or medical and surgical appliances to persons suffering from a prescribed disease or disability of a permanent or long-term nature.

The conditions which have been prescribed are: mental handicap, mental illness (for people under 16 only), phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia.

From 1971, a separate scheme was introduced to refund the cost of drugs above a certain threshold for non-medical card holders. This evolved into the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) in 1999. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €100 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. When the DPS was introduced, it was decided to continue the LTI for the conditions already covered, but it has not been extended and I have no plans to do so.

Where a person or their dependants have significant ongoing medical expenses the Health Service Executive may grant a medical card on a discretionary basis if it is satisfied that the level of expenditure is unduly burdensome.

The Medical Card (GMS) and Drugs Payment Schemes (DPS) are under ongoing review in the context of the need to obtain best value for money . There have been no specific discussions on the LTI between my Department, the HSE and the Department of Finance.

The table below outlines the numbers of persons who were eligible under the LTI in the years 2003 to 2008 and the actual number of persons who availed of the scheme in those years.

Year

No. of people eligible for LTI

No. of LTI claimants

2003

97,184

48,053

2004

93,504

50,526

2005

99,280

53,006

2006

106,307

53,082

2007

112,580

59,040

2008

120,918

66,943

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