Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has criticised the government for taking medical cards from sick children calling the decision unacceptable.
Mr Noonan was speaking in Dáil this afternoon in which he stated that while the system could not be changed overnight, Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and Minister of State Alex White were going to look at some of the issues which have arisen.
Mr Noonan said “The Government has made clear its commitment to delivering on the implementation of a GP service for the entire population as part of the move to universal health care,’’ Mr Noonan also added.
“I think everybody understands, however, that a medical card system which costs over €2 billion a year…and 42 per cent of the population holds a medical card…needs to reviewed periodically.’’
Mr Noonan, deputising for Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Opposition leaders’ questions, said that in 2013 alone the HSE awarded 100,000 medical cards. Over 23,000 of those were awarded on a discretionary basis, he added.
Mr Noonan stated that 7 per cent of those with medical cards had lost them under the review system. “Obviously it is a serious issue and the Government is committed to examining the situation again,’’ he added.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said one of the issues causing greatest offence on the doorsteps during the elections was the withdrawal of discretionary medical cards from very sick people.
“We were hearing shocking stories that went to the very heart of insensitivity from the administration…people terminally ill with cancer and brain tumours having cards taken from them,’’ he stated.
Mr Martin has said there had been a lot of talk from the Taoiseach and the metaphorical slapping down of people on the issue amid allegations of scaremongering.
“This whole issue has offended people’s sense of decency,’’ he said. “Many in homes who never had a medical card said to us: whatever you do, make sure you look after those who are sickest first.’’
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams
also gave his opinion in which he said “it was very disappointing to listen to Mr Noonan’s reply”. The Government did not listen and paid heed to nobody, he added. “You have learned nothing from the election results,’’ said Mr Adams.