Medical card rejected for fourth time: ‘sad shambles’

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Cllr Shane Clifford: Many in similar situation
A LIMERICK cancer sufferer turned down for a medical card for the fourth time shows the “sad shambles of the medical card crisis” say Fianna Fail.

A LIMERICK cancer sufferer turned down for a medical card for the fourth time shows the “sad shambles of the medical card crisis” say Fianna Fail.

At the beginning of the month the Limerick Leader highlighted the plight of the woman who had been refused for a third time. Then in the same week that the Government began to soften their attitude on the medical card issue she got a letter to say her fourth appeal had been turned down.

The person in question, who wishes to remain anonymous as she is worried about how it would affect her business, has battled bladder cancer since 2001.

The 41-year-old has had over 60 surgeries, both kidneys, womb and bladder removed and is on dialysis three days a week.

The woman told the Leader that she threw the latest letter in the bin.

Despite the news this Tuesday from the Dail she said she is not getting her hopes up.

“I have learnt over the years that it’s easier not to have any expectations,” she said.

About 15,300 people with serious health conditions can expect to go back on to free healthcare under the discretionary medical card scheme, the Government announced this week.

Anyone who had a discretionary card or GP visit card taken from them following an eligibility review from July 2011 to May this year will be re-examined by health bosses without having to reapply to get back in the system.

Ironically she never applied for a medical card. After her second kidney, bladder and hysterectomy were removed in 2012 a discretionary one came “out of the blue like a gift from the gods”.

Six months later she got a letter saying she was “no longer eligible”.

Newly elected councillor Shane Clifford, who became aware of the woman’s case on the election trail, called for the immediate reinstatement of her discretionary card

“The fact that one of the most deserving candidates in the country was rejected for a fourth time was inhumane. I am calling on Limerick TDs in Government to ensure it is restored post haste.

“Every day that goes by that she doesn’t have the comfort of knowing that she can access the medical treatment her serious condition requires is too long.

“There are many other individuals throughout the length and breadth of the country in a similar situation,” said Cllr Clifford.

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said he would be raising her case in the Dail to see will it be reinstated as part of the latest Government announcement.

“The Government said they are going to restore 15,000 cards. There are another 15,000 that we don’t know about because there were 30,000 discretionary cards withdrawn.

“Will this card fall in to the 15,000 that is being restored or not? That is what I will be asking.

“The fact that this fourth rejection letter came in the same week that the Government were softening their approach shows the lack of joined up thinking. The whole thing is a sad shambles,” said Deputy Collins.

The woman had supporting letters from her doctor and the Irish Kidney Association.

“It has certainly impacted her ability to use primary care services. Surely, one phone call from the centralised GMS application office to me would have been sufficient to clarify her status of need. Instead, reams of bureaucracy and stress for an already sick lady - it’s inhumane,” said the doctor.

The woman said she has never taken a penny from the State.

“I pay my taxes every year - it was hard going this year.

“When you really need somebody to give you a hand, it’s an extra slap in the face you don’t need when you are already going through hell. It’s another thing that makes it harder,” she said.