Cancellation of 210,000 medical card applications is ‘shocking’, says PAC chairman

Thousands of applicants refused for not providing documents by required date

Seán Fleming of Fianna Fáil called for the Minister for Health to explain why so many applications had been culled

Seán Fleming of Fianna Fáil called for the Minister for Health to explain why so many applications had been culled

 

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has described figures released by the HSE, which show 210,600 medical card applications have been cancelled since 2016, as “truly shocking”.

Data released following a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming shows hundreds of thousands of applications were refused because medical card applicants failed to present all the documentation required by a certain date. Some 18,894 applications have been refused so far this year, while 64,817 were refused in 2018, 68,767 in 2017 and 58,122 in 2016.

In its response to the parliamentary question, the HSE said applications were refused when a “comprehensive assessment of eligibility” could not be carried out because the applicant had failed to provide the appropriate documentation/material “within a reasonable timeframe”.

Mr Fleming called for the Minister for Health to explain why so many applications had been culled, underlining that a lot of work and attention went into filling out the form for a medical card and supplying documentary evidence.

“Proof of all income must be supplied, and in many cases letters need to be obtained from consultants, forms have to be signed by doctors and photocopies of bills must be submitted as evidence of need,” he said. “It’s particularly hard for those with special needs or the elderly, and they often require assistance in submitting the form.”

Mr Fleming noted that he had come across many cases where applicants who submitted the required documentation were later informed that the HSE never received their form.

“Shockingly, I have seen people submit the documentation two and three times, and the HSE often say they have still not received it. It’s very frustrating and makes people question whether the system is designed to make them abandon their application.

“I do accept that in some cases the information requested is not submitted in a timely manner but this level of cancelling the applications by the HSE is totally unacceptable and they must put procedures in place to examine the cause of the problem and eliminate all the shortcomings, many of which are caused directly by the HSE itself.”