Withdrawal of medical cards for cancer patients ‘outrageous’

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has condemned the ‘outrageous’ decision of the Minister for Health, and the Government, to systematically withdraw the medical card from those who have received a non-terminal cancer diagnosis. The move follows warnings from the Irish Medical Organisation since April that the HSE has begun to unilaterally cancel some medical cards meaning that patients are no longer covered for the benefits they have come to expect with their card. There is also widespread fear that discretionary medical cards - which are given to those who exceed the income limits - were being withdrawn from people.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has condemned the ‘outrageous’ decision of the Minister for Health, and the Government, to systematically withdraw the medical card from those who have received a non-terminal cancer diagnosis. The move follows warnings from the Irish Medical Organisation since April that the HSE has begun to unilaterally cancel some medical cards meaning that patients are no longer covered for the benefits they have come to expect with their card. There is also widespread fear that discretionary medical cards - which are given to those who exceed the income limits - were being withdrawn from people.

“This practice of the HSE unilaterally changing the status of a medical card holder is grossly unfair and potentially dangerous. It is intolerable that patients – many of whom are elderly have to find out from their GP that their entitlement has been withdrawn. If a private sector business operated like this, they would be condemned by the Government for abuse of their customers but the Government seems to be condoning this action by its own health services.”

The Taoiseach has denied the assertions that there is a campaign to remove the discretionary medical card to non-terminal cancer patients pointing to an increase in the number of cards issued from 1.854m last year to 1.9m this year.

“This is another perfect if rather tragic example of the Government’s left hand not knowing what its right hand is doing. The Minister and the Taoiseach are protesting that this kind of withdrawal is not happening, yet people are coming in to my office with letters confirming the withdrawal from the HSE. It is a shameful sign of the disarray that the HSE is in under the stewardship of this Minister. I am calling on the Minister and the Government to stop targeting some of the most sick and vulnerable people in our society and to instead turn its miserly gaze on to those who can most afford it, like the bankers who have emerged unscathed from the mess they created,” said Deputy McGrath.