Written answers

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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182. To ask the Minister for Health if the criteria will be extended for access to a medical card to include patients that receive a metastatic cancer diagnosis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16436/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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Eligibility for a medical card is assessed primarily on the basis of a financial assessment. The HSE's Expert Group on Medical Need and Medical Card Eligibility examined the issue of awarding medical cards on the basis of illness and concluded that it was not feasible, desirable, nor ethically justifiable to list medical conditions in priority order for medical card eligibility. The Expert Group also concluded that a person’s means should remain the main qualifier for a medical card.

However every effort is made by the HSE, within the framework of the legislation, to support applicants in applying for a medical card and, in particular, to take full account of the difficult circumstances in the case of applicants who may be in excess of the income guidelines. The HSE may exercise discretion and grant a medical card, even though an applicant exceeds his or her income threshold, where he or she faces difficult financial circumstances, such as extra costs arising from an illness.

It should also be noted that with regard to persons suffering from cancer and other serious medical conditions the HSE has a system in place for the provision of medical cards in response to emergency situations i.e. in circumstances where persons are in need of urgent or on-going medical care that they cannot afford and also for persons who are terminally ill and are receiving end of life treatment. These medical cards are issued within 24 hours of receipt of the required medical report and a completed application form from a healthcare professional. With the exception of terminally ill patients, all medical cards, granted on an emergency basis are valid for 6 months and will be followed up with a full means assessment application within a number of weeks.

As part of Budget 2020, Government committed to undertake a review and extend arrangements regarding the provision of emergency medical cards in cases of terminal illness. A review was subsequently commenced by the HSE Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) in December 2019. The work of the HSE Clinical Advisory Group has recently concluded and a Report is being finalised.


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