SOME 94,800 full medical cards were removed in the first eight months of the year – but 103,300 new cards were issued during that time, new figures reveal.
The reasons for removing the cards included the holders of the benefit dying, emigrating or failing to meet eligibility criteria on grounds of income and outgoings.
Following an assessment of their means, 12,600 people who had a full medical card had their eligibility downgraded to a GP visit card.
The HSE said figures for the first eight months of last year were not available so it is unclear how the figures compare to previous years.
Meanwhile, the political row over medical cards continued with Fianna Fail spokesman on health, Billy Kelleher, accusing Taoiseach Enda Kenny of not telling the truth about the impact of cuts in income rules on the over-70s.
"He is being widely reported as saying that just 3pc of over 70s will be affected by the Budget changes to medical cards. This is simply untrue," he insisted.
"Budget 2014 will take the medical card off 35,000 over 70s. That is not a Fianna Fail estimate – that is an official estimate from the Department of Health.
"So this budget alone will remove approximately 10pc of medical cards from those over 70 . . . this comes on top of the removal of 20,000 over 70 medical cards in Budget 2013."
Dr Ray Walley, GP spokesman at the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), also accused the "HSE of denying what we can all see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears." He warned that thousands of discretionary medical cards are being withdrawn from young and old people across the country and it is causing untold misery.
"People in dreadful situations are losing cards they have long become dependent on and it is a disgrace," he said.
And John Dolan, chief executive of Disability Federation of Ireland, said it is concerned the review of medical cards will unduly target those currently receiving discretionary medical cards who may fall over the income threshold, and that the episodic nature of certain illnesses and conditions will not be taken into account.