Thursday, 8 February 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
86. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in relation to the long-term illness card scheme and qualifying medical conditions, he will consider including in the scheme a rare illness known as arthrographosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3398/01]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The long-term illness scheme entitles persons to free drugs and medicines which are prescribed in respect of a specific schedule of illnesses. The long-term illness scheme has not been extended since 1975. The question of eligibility arrangements for health services generally will be considered in the context of preparing the new health strategy. As part of that process there will be an opportunity for objective analysis of, and full consultation on, any changes that may be proposed.
People who are unable, without undue hardship, to arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is solely a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board to decide. In determining eligibility for a medical card, the chief executive officer has regard to the financial circumstances of the applicant. Income guidelines are used by health boards to assist in determining a person's eligibility. However, even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, the person may still be awarded a medical card if the chief executive officer considers that the person's medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. Medical cards may also be issued to individual family members on this basis.
Non-medical card holders and people with conditions other than those covered under the LTI scheme can avail of the drug payment scheme, which was introduced on 1 July 1999 and replaced the drug cost subsidisation scheme – DCSS – and drug refund scheme – DRS. Under the drug payment scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than £42 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The primary aim of the scheme is to bring about important improvements over the previous schemes and the scheme is designed to be more streamlined, user friendly and to significantly improve the cash flow situation for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.
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