HSE must show ‘more humane response’ to medical card applicants, says Nolan

Independent TD Carol Nolan has called on the HSE to provide a more flexible and humane response to people who apply for a medical card.

The Laois Offaly said that her offices have been dealing with an increasing number of constituents who are being refused medical cards, often on the basis that they are marginally over the income threshold or involve cases where the nature and impact of their health conditions are not sufficiently taken into account:

“I would be the first to acknowledge that some aspects of the medical card situation have improved over the last number of years, in particular around the granting of cards to all children under 18 years of age with a diagnosis of cancer without the need of a financial assessment,” Deputy Nolan said.

“That being said I am increasingly concerned by the amount of people coming to my offices who have been left anxious and genuinely afraid after they were informed by the HSE that their application for a medical card was refused; often because they were as little as €15 over the income threshold.”

“The majority of these constituents would be elderly people with fixed incomes, such as a pension scheme, who are also trying to manage one of more chronic health conditions.”

“The HSE do have flexibility to take full account of the difficult circumstances in the case of applicants who may be in excess of the income guidelines, especially where those people face difficult financial circumstances, such as extra costs arising from a chronic illness. The problem I am finding in my offices however is that despite clearly and unequivocally demonstrating that hardship will follow-the cards are still being denied.”

“From the Government and the HSE’s point of view, the only more or less immediate way in which the barriers to accessing medical cards can fall is for a person to be diagnosed with an imminent and life-threatening illness. But it should not take such extreme circumstances before we allow for the introduction of a more compassionate and humane response. There are many people out there enduring painful and chronic medical conditions that are being driven into financial and physical hardship by this approach. It has to be reviewed immediately,” concluded Deputy Nolan.

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