Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that the on-going and systematic targeting by Government of the terms of eligibility for the medical card confirms that it is putting an ideological agenda before the welfare of citizens.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after news has continued to emerge about the devastating effects this policy implementation by the HSE and the Minister for Health is having on the lives of some of the sickest people in our society.
“The gross current estimate for the HSE this year is €13.4 billion, a net increase of €71.5 million on the previous year and in addition staff levels have reduced by over 10,000 since 2009. Yet despite these factors this Government and Minister Reilly in particular have the gall to tell people who have been given a cancer diagnosis that they will just have to fend for themselves in terms of assistance in accessing treatment under the discretionary Medical Card Scheme because there are no funds available. Last March Mr Tony O’Brien came before the Joint Committee on Health and Children on which I sit and proudly informed us that with regard to cancer services, the national cancer control programme will continue to focus on maximising timely access to services and the development of a comprehensive national service. He also said that would be a €17 million additional provision made in 2013 for the increased costs of cancer drugs. But what is point rolling out these great plans if you are systematically denying access to them to those who need them most?”
There has been widespread concern across the Country that the full impact of the recent spate of withdrawals has resulted in some of the most vulnerable people experiencing intolerable levels of stress due to concern about how they will fund vital and necessary medical treatment:
“The sense is growing all the time and I see this on a daily basis in my constituency office, that the lives and welfare of the elderly and the sick are in the hands of a bureaucratic monster like the HSE which seems to be governed by individuals with no idea about how their policy decisions are impacting on real people. Last March at that Committee meeting we were assured by Ms Laverne McGuinness of the HSE that although there was a backlog of 3,000 for discretionary Medical Cards, In cases where the medication will cause a significant financial burden, applications can be put in place which would be received favourably by the HSE. It is disturbing to see that the outcome almost 5 months later has instead been a sharp and noticeable increase of withdrawals of the discretionary Medical Card and the further erosion of any sense that the welfare of actual people is what is determining policy in both the HSE and the Department of Health,” concluded Deputy McGrath.