Saturday 20 December 2014

Health Minister James Reilly rules out prospect of compensation for all who lost medical cards

Niall O'Connor and Eilish O'Regan

Published 17/06/2014 | 15:54

Dr James Reilly

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has ruled out the prospect of compensation for thousands of people who lost their medical cards following the HSE's controversial review process.

Dr Reilly apologised for the medical card fiasco but said there was no plan to financially compensate those impacted.

The government today said around 15,300 people who were stripped of their cards will have their entitlements restored over the next four weeks.

Speaking in the Dail, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this number is broken down into 12,000 medical card holders and 2,200 GP visit cards.

It was agreed by cabinet this morning that those who lost their cards since July 2011 will now have them restored.

Speaking at government buildings today, the Health Minister said the announcement represented a "good day for those who have lost their cards".

"I'm very sorry they had to suffer this. This was an unintended consequence," he told reporters.

HSE chief Tony O'Brien, who was in place while medical cards were being taken away, was also asked whether he should apologise.

He said he was merely implementing government policy and therefore it would be "perverse" for him to apologise.

Asked about his own political future amid speculation he will be moved out of the Department of Health in the upcoming reshuffle, Dr Reilly said:

"My faith as a minister of health or any ministry is in the gift of the Taoiseach. He has to do what he feels is the right thing," he said.

Announcing the move today the Department of Health said it will restore the medical cards or GP visits issued on a discretionary basis to a person with a serious medical condition, and who lost it after undergoing an eligibility review between July 1 2011  and May 31st 2014.

*A person must have held a medical or GP visit card issued on a discretionary basis during that period, but had it withdrawn on foot of a completed eligibility review;

*They must have completed the review process during that period i.e. provided the information and documentation required to assess their eligibility;

*They must have a serious medical condition which required that their case was referred to a Medical Officer as a part of the review process.

The move excludes anyone who applied for a card during that time and was turned down.

It also fails to make any provision for people who are currently applying for discretionary card.

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