Medical card quick fix is still unfair
THE latest band-aid measure to try to lull the criticism of discretionary medical cards has created a new wave of unfairness.
Families and individuals who had a card before centralisation of the service in 2011 are to have it returned.
The implication is that the test, using national criteria as opposed to local health office judgment, was too harsh.
But thousands of others who looked for a card for the first time since 2011 and were rejected faced the same test. And there is no reprieve for them.
In some cases their income may be lower and their medical condition more severe than those who will have their cards returned in the coming weeks.
And it is the same test that all new applicants for a card will face until new legislation is in place giving automatic entitlement to people with a particular condition.
That proposed system is also fraught with potential problems – where does this list of conditions begin and end? How sick will someone have to be?
Parents groups last night described people seeking a card as being "trapped", with some at breaking point. There is no easy solution to it all, of course.
The effect of the saga however, has been to damage public faith in the discretion being given to people looking for one of these cards.
Health Minister James Reilly said yesterday efforts will now be made to gain more local knowledge in assessing these applications – the reversal of what centralisation had set out to achieve.