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Anyone with a reinstated discretionary medical card 'need not worry'

The Minister for Health said he will bring a series of proposals to Cabinet in the coming weeks on discretionary medical card reform.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF Health won’t touch any re-instated discretionary medical cards, but reforms will be introduced in the future.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he will examine the results of a report into a range of medical conditions that should be considered as a basis of eligibility for health services.

The expert panel convened to carry out the analysis found that to list medical conditions in order of priority for medical cards was “neither feasible nor desirable”, RTÉ News reports.

Varadkar said this afternoon that “he will bring forward proposals to Cabinet to reform the discretionary medical card system so that very sick people are provided for”.

Anyone whose discretionary medical card has been reinstated in recent months need not worry. Their cards will be extended for as long as they need them.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that the system needed to be “fine-tuned”, but that it was always going to be “impossible” to outline a list of illnesses in other of priority.

He said the system of discretionary medical cards works and should be retained, as it is compassionate and targets those who need it the most.

Jonathan Irwin, CEO of the Jack and Jill Foundation, told Morning Ireland that the current system is “inhumane” and said that terminally ill children must be granted access to medical cards, or else Varadkar would face massive public backlash.

The Irish Medical Organisation called for increased funding for the medical card system.

It believes the system should be extended on the basis of income, but with a properly resourced allocation for discretionary medical cards.

Chairman Dr Ray Walley said in a statement this evening that the system worked until “the current Government began to systematically starve it of funding”, but rejected suggestions that it needs “tweaking”.

The group also called for increase support for GPs, and warned against the Government following through on promises of universal free GP care.

A report on medical cards in Ireland, published yesterday, said that the HSE’s extensive reviews of the cards made people afraid.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s report also said it is “gravely concerned at the waste of money of the current extensive reviews, given the known level of eligibility in the system”.

Originally posted 18:20.

Read: HSE ‘needs to address’ the fact medical card reviews made people afraid >

More: Doctors warn general practice in Ireland is ‘on the brink of collapse’ >

Video: What does Joan Burton think has been Labour’s biggest mistake in government? >

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Nicky Ryan

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