Wexford Fine Gael Senator Michael D'Arcy welcomed the HSE’s decision to halt the review of discretionary medical cards. It comes after a meeting of the Cabinet Sub Committee on Health, when the Government decided to address issues surrounding eligibility for the cards to take account of medical conditions, including new legislation if necessary.
We need a compassionate medical needs based approach to medical cards
“I am pleased that the Government has listened to the concerns on this issue. We have all been shocked in recent weeks by stories of severely ill or disabled people being subjected to a review of their discretionary medical cards. In many cases this has caused unnecessary stress and upset."
“While the vast majority of discretionary cards have been maintained following a review, the process of the review itself can be extremely stressful. Furthermore, the level of attention surrounding this issue has led to anxiety and concern among other medical card holders who fear they could lose their card."
As a result of today’s decision, the HSE will now set up an expert panel to look at what factors should be considered when a discretionary medical card is being granted. In the past, only financial circumstances and financial hardship could be considered when granting discretionary cards. These changes will ensure that, for the first time, when deciding on discretionary cards, medical conditions will be taken into account.
The HSE assured us that it would not make the mistake again of asking people with life-long conditions if they had changed. We must ensure that people are treated with compassion at every juncture.
"If we want a medical card system that functions based on the needs of people, we must change the legislation and change our approach. I am relieved that the review has been halted and that a new framework will be developed, and underpinned by legislation if necessary, to ensure that the system for allocating discretionary medical cards is based on fairness, compassion and common decency.”