THE HEALTH Service Executive has moved to allay fears of seriously ill patients, confirming that medical cards are available within 24 hours to those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
The statement follows claims by Fianna Fail Deputy Willie O’Dea that he was contacted by up to eight patients in recent months who said they were refused the card because they did not meet the requirements. He said some patients are exceeding a threshold by as little as €20, which has been denied by the HSE.
Deputy O’Dea said the HSE’s assertions amount to “complete propaganda and are untrue”. He said he has spoken to the HSE’s appeals office within the past week about a Limerickwoman in her 60s who has breast cancer and who has been refused a medical card. “I received a lecture on the phone [from the HSE] about this woman’s earnings, and was told the appeal will take two months to process. People are dying because they’re waiting for the HSE to make a decision on their case,” he said.
In a statement to the Limerick Leader, the HSE stated that they provide “medical cards to individuals in emergency circumstances, such as for terminal illness or for a serious medical issue.
“All GPs and social workers have been notified of the procedures for applying for an emergency medical card. Emergency cards are issued within 24 hours.
“No means test applies to an application by a terminally ill patient and they will be provided with a medical card number for a period of six months once their medical condition has been verified by a GP or a consultant.”
Deputy O’Dea said that he found it “very disturbing” that people in such positions would be refused financial aid, and said these people are “not millionaires”.