Medical Card Review Process – Recent Announcement
CF Ireland made a submission in June 2014 to advocate for medical card eligibility on the basis of medical need, and for people with CF to be included in this cohort based on their lifelong progressive illness. Further to this submission, we were invited to attend focus groups with other patient organisations and provide more input on the issue.
At the end of November, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary and Social Care Kathleen Lynch announced the following changes to improve the operation of the medical card system, particularly for people with significant medical needs. The ten point actions include:
- An enhanced assessment process which takes into account the burden of an illness or a condition
- The greater exchange of information between the medical card central assessment office and the local health offices
- People with a serious illness who hold a discretionary card can also be reassured that they will retain their card pending implementation of the actions to improve the operation of the scheme
- The power of GPs to extend medical cards in difficult circumstances will be strengthened
- A clinical advisory group is being established by the HSE to develop guidance on assessing applications involving significant medical conditions
- The default position for medical cards given to people with terminal illnesses is that they will no longer be reviewed
- The HSE will be empowered to provide people with therapies or appliances if that's what they need, even in the absence of a medical card
- The HSE will develop a single, integrated process for people to apply for a medical card, a GP visit card, the Long-Term Illness scheme, and the Drugs Payment Scheme
- Access points will be established around the country in health offices to support and assist people to make applications
- The Department and the HSE will consider the best way to make medical aids and appliances available to persons who do not hold a medical card, the provision of services to children with severe disabilities, and to enable people with particular needs to have these met on an individual basis rather than awarding a medical card to all family members
"From now on, wider discretion and greater humanity will be exercised as part of an enhanced process that takes into account the burden of an illness or condition," Mr Varadkar said.
CFI will be keeping a close eye on the implementation of this ten point plan, and will keep members updated on all subsequent developments in the area.
For more information:
- Submission from CFI on 'Medical Card Eligibility and CF'.
- Report of the Expert Panel on Medical Need for Medical Card Eligibility
- External review of the Medical Card Process, undertaken by Prospectus and Deloitte.