Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
669. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans to extend the expiry date of medical cards in respect of persons who have returned their review forms on time but their medical cards have expired by the time a decision is made on their review. [3936/12]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): I have held detailed discussions with the HSE with regard to issues arising in respect of medical card renewals. A medical card holder who genuinely engages with the review of their medical card should not have their entitlement withdrawn before that review is complete. The HSE is taking steps to ensure that this rule is fully implemented.
The HSE is also undertaking significant changes to how it conducts reviews so that there is far less administrative burden placed on most medical card holders and so that reviews take less time. From this month, reviews for medical card holders who are 66 years or over will operate on a self-assessment basis, as currently happens with persons over 70 years. The self-assessment review model will also be extended to medical card holders under 66 years, who were granted their medical card on the basis of a means assessment, where the HSE is satisfied that the client is living in this jurisdiction.
The HSE is also standardising eligibility periods for people aged under 66 years, from two years to three years. There will be a new four year eligibility period for medical card holders aged 66 years or over. Notwithstanding that, there continues to be an obligation on all card holders to notify the HSE of any change in their circumstances which would disentitle them from holding a medical card.
From February 1, the HSE will implement a new system to provide additional functionality to GPs to maintain the eligibility of patients who are going through the renewal process. This new system will also allow GPs to add new babies online. These reforms should significantly reduce the administrative burden on medical card holders and, indeed, the HSE, and ensure that some of the issues in relation to renewals are addressed. I am continuing to engage with the HSE in relation to other possible changes to the renewal and application process.
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