Written answers

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Department of Health

Medical Aids and Appliances

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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2918. To ask the Minister for Health if he will extend eligibility to the long-term illness scheme for reimbursement of blood glucose test strips to all women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy; his views on the decision to remove them from the scheme; if he will now reverse that decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39639/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Long Term Illness Scheme was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the scheme are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of Thalidomide.

Under the Scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

Gestational diabetes is not a permanent or long-term illness and is, therefore, not covered by the Scheme. There are currently no plans to make specific provision for gestational diabetes under any new or existing health scheme.

However, there are other supports for access to medical approved items such as the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) and the General Medical Services Scheme (GMS) that would assist patients with gestational diabetes.

Under the DPS, no individual or family pays more than €114 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines.

For people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be eligible for a medical card. In accordance with the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for a medical card is determined by the HSE. In certain circumstances the HSE may exercise discretion and grant a medical card, even though an applicant exceeds the income guidelines, where he or she faces difficult financial circumstances, such as extra costs arising from illness.

The HSE afford applicants the opportunity to furnish supporting documentation to determine whether undue hardship exists and to fully take account of all relevant circumstances that may benefit them in assessment, including medical evidence of costs and certain expenses.

In circumstances where an applicant is still over the income limit for a medical card, they are then assessed for a GP visit card, which entitles the applicant to GP visits without charge.

Further information on the medical cardscheme and the application process are available at: www.hse.ie.

Patients may also be entitled to claim tax relief on the cost of their medical expenses. This includes medicines prescribed by a doctor, dentist, or consultant. Relief is at the standard tax rate of 20%. Details on how to claim are at www.revenue.ie.


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