Labour backbenchers demand action over medical card review fiasco
BACKBENCH Labour TDs have demanded that Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore immediately address the on-going controversy surrounding the removal of discretionary medical cards for elderly and sick people.
There has been widespread public outrage over the fiasco as people with serious long-term conditions are being told they will no longer have medical cards to pay for vital treatments and medicine.
Horrifying examples of people with Down Syndrome and others with Motor Neuron Disease being questioned over their need for medical cards has now led to calls from within the Labour Party for action.
Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys told the Irish Independent that backbench TDs have called for the issue to be addressed as "quickly as possible".
He said party members are regularly encountering people while canvassing for the forthcoming elections who have had cards taken from them following a review by the HSE.
"We want this investigated immediately because it is causing confusion among people who are already very vulnerable," he said.
"It is causing a lot of worry and stress for people and we need it resolved.
"It is not just me who is highlighting the issue; it has been discussed among all the backbench TDs."
In the Dail yesterday, Mr Gilmore said the repeated reviewing of medical cards given to the sick and elderly "constitutes a degree of harassment".
Mr Gilmore said a freeze should be put on the time a person has their condition reviewed once they are given a medical card.
He also said letters being received by people were both worrying and upsetting, and a better way of conducting the medical card review needed to be found.
"There is no justification whatsoever for somebody getting a letter asking if his or her child still has Down Syndrome or somebody getting a letter asking if he or she still has Motor Neurone Disease," he said.
"Where a review takes place, there should be a freeze on that person being reviewed again for a defined period of time."
Mr Gilmore said when a card is withdrawn, a "reasonable period of time" should be given so the person can put another arrangement in place and be given time to appeal the decision. He said there are now more medical cards in circulation than at any other time and 96pc of those reviewed retained their cards.