Offaly Independent

Published: Tuesday, 17th June, 2014 2:16pm

Discretionary medical cards to be returned within weeks

Profile by Laura Ryder

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People with serious medical conditions who lost discretionary medical or GP visit cards as a result of eligibility reviews between July 2011 and May 2014 are to get them back.

The government has today (Tuesday) approved a method by which such cards can be returned without the need for a change in the law.

It’s expected over 15,000 cards will be restored as part of the process, which is expected to be implemented within weeks.

A statement released by the Department of Health this afternoon said the government has accepted that the review of the cards, which took place in the context of the centralisation of the medical card system, had “unintended” consequences.

It added that those with acute or lifelong conditions losing their cards was an outcome that the government “could not stand over”.

In recent weeks the government decided to take remedial action to repair unintended consequences of reviews. It has also decided to form a new policy whereby eligibility for health services can take account of medical conditions in addition to financial means.

“Today’s decision has come in the wake of considerable interaction with the Office of the Attorney General,” the statement outlined.

“While medical cards are provided to persons under the 1970 Health Act, the director general of the HSE is satisfied that today’s government decision will allow him to return cards to persons with an acute medical condition or a person with a lifelong condition (including disability).”

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