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Dublin: 22 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

Families who had discretionary medical card revoked already will not get them back

The HSE said there are legal issues surrounding the reinstating of discretionary medical cards that have already been taken away.

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Updated 22:45

THOSE WHO HAVE been told that their discretionary medical cards are under review will retain their cover, according to the HSE’s National Director of Primary Care John Hennessy.

Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland, he said that the announcement made by Junior Health Minister Alex White about the suspension on the review for existing discretionary medical cards will include those undergoing appeals at the moment.

“It means they will be included… they will get benefit from the measure…”

He clarified that those who hold a discretionary medical at the moment are also covered and their cover will not be reviewed.

Giving them back

However, the concern for families is that for those who were in receipt of a discretionary medical card in the past, but who have since had it revoked – those people will not have their discretionary medical card awarded back to them, under this measure.

Speaking about “retrospection” Hennessy said that those “who have lost their card some time ago is more difficult to work through” stating that the legal position is that it is not legally possible to restore those cards.

Speaking about the expert panel that is to be appointed to draw up a list of conditions that would be covered for a discretionary medical card, he said that the panel will be appointed in the coming days.

Hennessy said that “initial contact” had been made with some people yesterday and said that there would be a “clinical” presence on the panel.

Make-up of panel

However, while he said that patient advocacy and parents groups would be liaised with, he said the detail of the make-up of the panel was not yet known.

When pressed to answer when he was asked to review the issue of discretionary medical cards, Hennessy said it was something they were aware of “for some time”.

Hennessy added that he hoped that it would “not be a lengthy process but we don’t want it to be rushed either”.

“The important thing here is get it right,” he said.

The review of normal medical cards is set to continue.

The announcement yesterday was only in relation to discretionary medical cards, that fall under the remit of the Health Act 1970, in which the term “undue financial hardship” is used to gauge whether a family should be awarded a discretionary medical card.

Originally published 1:00.

Read: Alex White denies presiding over medical card review, says it was a joint decision>

Read: Discretionary medical card review process to stop immediately>

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