Impossible to identify illnesses for medical cards

The news that the expert group to determine eligibility for medical cards has concluded it is not possible to identify a list of medical conditions to be taken into account when determining a person’s eligibility will be a further embarrassment for former Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly.

It means more than 15,000 people who had discretionary medical cards reinstated this year will have their eligibility extended.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the cards would be extended for people “for as long as they need them” and there was no need to worry about the findings of the expert panel on extending eligibility for medical cards.

Dr Reilly was part of a Cabinet sub-committee which came up with the idea to appoint an expert panel to decide on eligibility when the HSE was culling medical cards earlier in the year. But when Minister Varadkar was appointed to the position, he was less enthusiastic about the idea.

The report found it would be “neither feasible nor desirable” to list medical conditions that would qualify in order of priority, according to RTÉ News.

It said a list could not be drawn up because of the range of possible illnesses and the varying degrees of severity within each category of illness.

The report also found fault with the existing system for granting discretionary cards (no surprise there) saying the system for granting the cards is not efficient and is not uniformly operated throughout the country.

The reinstated discretionary cards are in most cases valid up to next May, but in all probability the system will continue on past that date.


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