Kenny denies targeting seriously ill in medical card withdrawals

Martin insists there is ‘nasty focus’ on discretionary cards within ‘general cull’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied a claim by the Fianna Fáil leader that seriously ill people are being targeted by the withdrawal of discretionary medical cards.  Photograph: Frank Miller /	The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied a claim by the Fianna Fáil leader that seriously ill people are being targeted by the withdrawal of discretionary medical cards. Photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times

Tue, Sep 24, 2013, 18:26

The Taoiseach has denied a claim by the Fianna Fáil leader that seriously ill people are being targeted by the withdrawal of discretionary medical cards.

Enda Kenny told Micheál Martin in the Dail this afternoon that the number of discretionary medical cards had fallen because over 22,000 people entitled to them now qualified for an ordinary medical card under the income eligibility scheme.

“There is not, and never has been, an automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons with a specific illness,’’ he added. He said that did not mean that people with serious illnesses did not qualify for a medical card.

Mr Kenny said a system had been put in place to issue emergency medical cards to seriously ill people who could not afford the required medical treatment. They were issued within 24 hours of the receipt of the patient’s medical details.

Mr Martin claimed that within the “general cull of medical cards’’ there had been “a particularly nasty focus’’ on people suffering from a serious illness who would have been entitled to discretionary medical cards in the past. The number of people entitled to such a card had fallen from 80,000 to 56,000, a reduction of 24,000.

Mr Kenny said the number of people with free access to GP care was now the highest in the State’s history. As of last August, some 1.8 million people had a full medical card and a further 131,000 people had a GP-visiting card, he added.