Tuesday, 20 June 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
108. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Health if he will assess only applicants for means for medical cards purposes and not the family of the applicant as this militates against disabled juveniles. [11332/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): Under the Health Act, 1970 medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board, are unable, without undue hardship, to provide general practitioner services for themselves and their dependants.
Income guidelines are drawn up by the chief executive officers to assist in the determination of a person's eligibility. These guidelines are revised annually in line with the Consumer Price Index. However, these guidelines are not statutorily binding and, even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, that person may still be awarded a medical card if the chief executive officer considers that the person's medical needs or other circumstances would so justify.
Persons aged 16 to 25 who are dependants of a person who is not a medical card holder, are not normally entitled to a medical card except where they have an entitlement under EC Regulations or where they are in receipt of a disabled person's maintenance allowance. The decision on whether or not a person is regarded as a dependant or as being financially independent is made by the chief executive officer of the health board on the basis of the circumstances of each individual case. Those who are financially independent are entitled to apply for a medical card in their own right and are assessed on the same criteria as all other applicants.
 It is open to all persons, be they parents or students, to apply to the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board for health services if they are unable to provide these services for themselves or their dependants without hardship. I am satisfied that health boards give sympathetic consideration to such applications when the circumstances warrant it.
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