James Reilly has responded to criticism of changes to medical cards for cancer patients, saying they will still get a medical card if they meet the criteria for it.
The Health Minister dismissed reports that only terminally ill patients were entitled to help.
Reilly says medical cards aren't automatically given to cancer patients but they might qualify for a discretionary card.
The Minister says patients will continue to be supported if they need it.
"The thing has not changed in so far as the issue around eligibility," he said.
"The discretion is there, it will be used.
"Cancer is no longer the terrible sentence it used to be. Outcomes are much better. But people who are just recently diagnosed with cancer obviously do need to be supported.
"And that will be considered… the idea that you have to be terminally ill to get a medical card with cancer is wrong."