Tuesday, 15 June 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
423. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the high cost of inhalers and medicines for asthma sufferers; if he will have asthma classed as a long-term illness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17740/04]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Under the Health Act 1970, a health board may arrange for the supply, without charge, of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with a specified condition, for the treatment of that condition, as per the long-term illness scheme. The conditions are: mental handicap, mental illness — for people under 16 only — phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia. There are no plans to amend the list of eligible conditions.
Other schemes provide assistance towards the cost of approved drugs and medicines for people with significant ongoing medical expenses. People who cannot, without undue hardship, 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. In determining eligibility, the CEO has regard to the applicant’s financial circumstances. Health boards use income guidelines to assist in determining eligibility. However, where a person’s income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may be awarded if the CEO 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 not covered under the LTI can use the drugs payment scheme. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €78 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines.
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