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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020

Restoration of discretionary medical cards welcomed, but questions still remain

Campaigners want temporary measures to be introduced that will improve the application process for new applicants.

Our Children's Health campaign holding a protest outside Government buildings.
Our Children's Health campaign holding a protest outside Government buildings.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

CAMPAIGNERS WHO HAVE been calling for discretionary medical cards to be returned to families who had them removed have welcomed today’s announcement that over 15,000 cards are to be reinstated.

Today it was announced that thousands of discretionary cards would be restored to those who have a serious medical condition.

Time period

The decision will cover the period from 1 July 2011 to 31 May 2014 and will see the HSE write to those who lost their cards during that period to say their eligibility is being reinstated.

While welcoming the announcement, the Our Children’s Health group state that 22,000 discretionary cards were withdrawn over the intervening period.

“The remaining 7,000 refer to people who may not have engaged fully with the review process for whatever reason, due to the severity of an illness, stress etc,” they said.

The group said they are concerned that a substantial number of seriously ill children will remain without a medical card, despite today’s announcement.

Seriously ill 

“It is inappropriate for those that are seriously ill to have to plead their case. The onus should be on the HSE to identify such cases and make first contact. Further, the language used is extraordinary, consistent with the ‘poor house’ type rhetoric that runs right though the 1970 Act itself,” they said.

The group said they are continuing in their appeal to both Minister for Health James Reilly and the HSE to introduce temporary measures that will “immediately improve the application process for new applicants and accommodate those children living with serious illness or congenital conditions. We will be making a further submission in that regard”.

Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation said today’s announcement was the “right decision”.

He said he had a number of questions surrounding new cases.

“And what about the parents who didn’t bother to apply for a medical card for their sick child as the family were outside the means threshold?  Can we assume that if they apply now they will be met with a more positive response?” he asked.

“Yes, we seem to be heading in the right direction on medical cards, but we must ensure that the political will prevails to see this through,” he said.

Read: ‘I’m very sorry’: Enda Kenny apologies over medical card ‘stress’>

Read: Over 15,000 people are being given back their medical cards>

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