Question to the Minister for Health (Dr. Leo Varadkar, TD)
To ask the Minister for Health if he will facilitate the automatic renewal of medical cards for persons with fibromyalgia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
For WRITTEN ANSWER on Thursday, 2 April 2015.
In accordance with the Health Act 1970 (as amended), the assessment for a medical card is determined primarily by reference to the means, including the income and expenditure, of the applicant and his or her partner and dependants. There is no entitlement to a medical card for a person with a particular illness or medical condition. The Deputy will be aware of the publication of the Report of the Expert Panel on Medical Need for Medical Card Eligibility and the Medical Card Process Reviewin November 2014. Key findings of the Expert Panel were that it would not be feasible, desirable or ethically justifiable to list medical conditions in priority order for medical card eligibility and that a person’s means should remain the main qualifier for a medical card.
However, the Government recognises that the health service needs to be responsive to the circumstances of people with significant medical needs. Following publication of the two reports, in November 2014, the Minister for Health and I announced a series of measures to enhance the operation of the medical card scheme and make it more sensitive to people’s needs, especially where serious illness is involved. Where deemed appropriate in particular circumstances, the HSE may exercise discretion and grant a medical card even though an applicant’s means exceed the prescribed threshold. Where a person does not qualify for a medical card, they may be provided with a GP Visit Card, appropriate therapy or other community supports or drugs.
Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.